A seductive private collection of photographs comes to auction in Paris at Christie’s on June 19th. At the heart of the collection is the theme of beauty, most specifically female beauty as idealised in the worlds of fashion and film. The collection boasts fine prints of a range of images that have become defining icons of the genre, and woven into this compelling narrative of glamour and style are other themes particularly resonant to the collector that give the collection its individual character. Notably, we trace what one might describe – to borrow the title of the Charles Dickens novel – as A Tale of Two Cities. The cities in this instance are New York and Paris.
This sumptuous collection has been put together with passion and care by Leon Constantiner, who made his home in New York some thirty years ago. We are invited to share the collector’s fascination with the city, used as a backdrop to classic fashion images, by Norman Parkinson and Peter Lindbergh, or explored as a subject in its own right by such artists as Andy Warhol and Hiroshi Sugimoto. We are also drawn by images that distil the lure of Paris, presented here as surely the world city most closely associated with the pursuit of elegance and high style. This is the city that saw the birth of haute couture and its dazzling post-war renaissance – the names of Balenciaga, Dior, Givenchy, and Saint Laurent feature prominently in the collection. Paris is of course the city that inspired visiting Americans, led by Richard Avedon and Irving Penn, to produce some of their most iconic works, the city that attracted as long-term residents a distinguished roster of photographers including such luminaries as Helmut Newton and William Klein, and that inspired some of their most important pictures. Avedon’s bravura composition Dovima with Elephants and Newton’s enigmatic Rue Aubriot demonstrate memorably the city’s potential to stimulate the creative imagination.
As a great champion myself of these areas of photography, I have enjoyed a constant dialogue of enthusiasts with Leon over many years and I was privileged to be invited by him to manage the sale at auction with Christie’s of a major part of the collection in 2008; but at that time Leon was not ready to part with everything and kept back a strong representative selection of treasures for his continuing delight. It is these that we are now honoured to present in Paris.
ICONS OF GLAMOR & STYLE
THE CONSTANTINER COLLECTION
Paris – June 19, 2019
Sale: Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 4PM
Exhibition: from Saturday, June 15 to Wednesday, June 19, 10 am-6 pm (closed on Sunday)
Christie’s: 9 avenue Matignon, 75008 Paris