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Lot 71: CUNNINGHAM, IMOGEN (1883-1976) "Magnolia Blossom, Tower of Jewels."Platinum House
April 18, 2013
New York, NY, USALive Auction
CUNNINGHAM, IMOGEN (1883-1976)
"Magnolia Blossom, Tower of Jewels." Warm-toned silver print, 9x11 3/4 inches (22.9x29.8 cm.), with Cunningham's signature, in pencil, on recto. 1925
Originally in the collection of Hannah Holm; by descent to a family member.
This scarce vintage print of one of Cunningham's iconic images demonstrates the sensibility of a photographer who found inspiration in the natural world and plants she raised. A native of Seattle, Washington, Cunningham and her young family moved to Oakland, California, where the photographer taught at Mills College. Cunningham wrote, "I have always been interested in plants but had never studied them until we came to California, where everything grew so marvelously."
Like her friends and colleagues Edward Weston and Ansel Adams, for Cunningham, photography was a mode of self-expression that also relied on technical sophistication. Her ability to coax from gelatin silver photographic paper all the nuances, gradations and soft gray tones from the negative reflects a keen eye and remarkable skill set. In this way the overall appearance of the print shows how she was able to mimic the palette of another technique she employed: the platinum print.
This image is reproduced in Imogen Cunningham, A Portrait, 11; Imogen Cunningham, A Retrospective Exhibition (New York, 1995), front cover.