Spotlight On Photography Auction Press Release by SANTA MONICA AUCTIONS



Works by Irving Penn, Ruud van Empel, George Tice, Julius Shulman, Andre de Dienes, Ruth Bernhard, Weegee, Arnold Newman, Lillian Bassman, Elliott Erwitt, Horst P. Horst, Frank Horvat, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Abelardo Morell, Dennis Stock, Bert Stern and George Platt Lynes lead the sale.  

SANTA MONICA AUCTIONS is pleased to announce Spotlight on Photography - an auction of contemporary and classic photographs along with photo-based work on Saturday, April 26, 2014 beginning at 4PM at Bergamot Station Arts Center in Santa Monica, CA.  

Anchoring the catalogue is Irving Penn’s Optician’s Shop Window, New York, 1939 (Printed 1983) gelatin silver print, from the edition of 65, estimated at $20,000/$25,000 (pictured left).

“Made at the very beginning of Penn's career, this photograph is emblematic of his life's work.  At once a still-life and a portrait, even a kind of self-portrait, this modest bit of vernacular advertising is portrayed by Penn simultaneously as a document of folk art and a work of surrealism--then at its apogee.” -John Szarkowski.

Vintage offerings include a George Platt Lynes - likely, a self-portrait - taken during an exhibition of his ballet scenes at Pierre Matisse’s New York gallery in 1941 estimated at $2,500/$3,500, an Andre de Dienes’ nude circa 1940, estimated at $1,800/$2,200 and another Andre de Dienes Breakfast in Bed portrait of Marilyn Monroe from 1953, estimated at $5,000/$7,000 (de Dienes famously hired Monroe, then Norma Jean, for her first modeling job at age 19) and two Weegee prints: Stripper in a Dressing Room, 1950, estimated at $4,000/$6,000 and Milwaukee (Woman Knocked Over in a Brawl) from 1948, estimated at $5,000/$7,000.

An assortment of iconic fashion photographs follow, among them- Horst P. Horst’s Lisa With Harp shot on assignment for Vogue in 1939, estimated at $10,000/$12,000 and Lillian Bassman’s stunning gelatin silver print of a Christian Dior corset photographed for Harper’s Bazaar in 1950, estimated at $4,000/$6,000 which join Annie Leibovitz’s 2003 cibachrome print of The White Stripes as illustrated in her monograph, American Music, estimated at $6,000/$8,000.

Renowned architectural and celebrity portraits from Julius Shulman (an Artist Proof of Case Study House #22, Los Angeles, CA, Pierre Koenig, Architect, acquired directly from his studio, estimated at $10,000/$12,000), George Tice (Petit’s Mobil Gas Station, Cherry Hill, NJ, 1974, estimated at $7,500/$8,500), Ron Galella (vintage print of Andy Warhol and Truman Capote arriving at Studio 54 in 1978, estimated at $1,800/$2,200) and Arnold Newman (John F. Kennedy at the Capitol when the future president had just become a United States Senator in 1953, estimated at $5,000/$7,000).  

Contemporary photography will be represented as well with World #9 from Ruud van Empel’s breakthrough 2005 series (pictured right), estimated at $20,000/$25,000; two fresh to auction Abelardo Morell gelatin silver prints- The Coliseum by Piranesi #2, 1994 and Map in the sink, 1996, estimated at $4,000/$5,000 each; and a collaborative print from Rashid Johnson & Hank Willis Thomas titled A portrait of Two American Artists as Young Negro Scholars from the sold out edition of 31, published by the Rubell Family Collection in 2008, estimated at $1,500/$2,500.

Previews begin April 1, 2014 in conjunction with the Month of Photography Los Angeles [MOPLA] at Bergamot Station in Gallery A5 and online at  The catalogue is ever-expanding as SMA continually considers consignments up until the weekend of the auction.  Submissions are invited via email (

2014 marks the 30-year anniversary of SANTA MONICA AUCTIONS - an independently owned and operated boutique auction house specializing in sourcing modern and contemporary fine art of all mediums.  Please visit our recently relaunched website to join our mailing list, peruse auction highlights and receive catalogue updates. 


Art Ltd. | Santa Monica Auctions by SANTA MONICA AUCTIONS

Amid the familiar chaos of hammers, nails and art that accompany the yearly transition from Robert Berman Gallery into Santa Monica Auctions, gallery owner and founder of the auctions, Robert Berman was animatedly describing, over the phone, to longtime friend and art collector Cheech Marin the vibrant energy of Carlos Almaraz' 1985 painting, The Boating Party. As Berman finished his conversation, he seamlessly segued into a discussion of Almaraz, "Los Four," the influential Chicano artist collective of the '70s and '80s, and the Chicano art movement he has long championed before discussing the history of his own unique contribution to the Los Angeles art scene.

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Curbed Los Angeles | Transit Casualty: Santa Monica Auctions by SANTA MONICA AUCTIONS

Tuesday, June 12, 2012, by Neal Broverman

Transit Casualty: Santa Monica Auctions

Santa Monica Auctions, where LA's stylish art aficionados have bid on pieces for the last 18 years, hosted its last event this weekend at Bergamot Station's C Building, the LA Weekly reports. The C Building is getting demolished soon to make way for the Expo Line light rail extension to the beach (the Bergamot stop is rendered above)--the complex hosts not only the art auction and its offices, but contains the Track 16 gallery and The Robert Berman Gallery. Auctioneer and Santa Monica Auctions owner Robert Berman wasn't saying whether the auction will relocate somewhere else, but considering that individual pieces were going for tens of thousands of dollars this weekend, it would seem likely. [LA Weekly]


In a region the size of metro Los Angeles, with its population of approximately 14 million people, one would expect to find no shortage of established fine-art auction houses catering to its millionaire moguls and movie stars, but that's not actually the case. The two big guns - Christie's and Sotheby's - no longer conduct fine art sales in SoCal, meaning the field has become all the more accessible for houses like Santa Monica Auctions, which, for the past quarter of a century, has occupied its own well-rooted proprietary niche within the local auction landscape.

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LA WEEKLY | Santa Monica Auctions Says Goodbye, as Bergamot Station's C Building Will Be Demolished for Expo Line | June 2012 by SANTA MONICA AUCTIONS

Robert Berman, auctioneer and owner of Santa Monica Auctions, stepped into the spotlight and started Saturday night's auction amidst a a speedy onslaught of bids for a Peter Alexander pastel on paper. Flying through the next works like a tiger chasing his dinner, Berman sold two more Alexanders, two pastels by Carlos Almaraz, and finally whipped the crowd into a frenzy with the arrival of an untitled John Altoon. Starting the bid at $8,000, Berman kept coaxing more money out of the crowd. The pastel-and-ink work climbed to $16,000. "Now this is an auction ... I love it!" exclaimed Berman.

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