Around the Globe - Andrew Currie highlights a selection of Bonhams sales worldwide

New York
Photographic memory

The veteran American photographer Bruce Davidson has been a member of the famous Magnum Photos cooperative for more than 60 years – and remains one of its brightest stars. Although an acclaimed fashion photographer, Davidson is best known for his clear-eyed but sympathetic portrayals of communities on the margins. His great 1970 work of photojournalism East 100th Street took two years to complete, and shows life in a poverty-stricken part of East Harlem. A selection of prints from the series, formerly owned by the legendary Magnum photo editor Jimmy Fox, lead the Photographs sale in New York in April. Reflecting on the project, Davidson recalled that when he first started work in East Harlem a resident told him, "What you call a ghetto, I call my home", and much of the power of the images comes from his ability to see the world through the eyes of the people whose lives he is recording. As he said, "I entered a lifestyle and, like the people on the block, I love and hate it and keep going back."

Sale: Photographs
Estimate: $40,000 - 60,000
New York, 3 April
Enquiries: Laura Paterson
[email protected]

Los Angeles
California dreaming

When 18-year-old Elmer Wachtel left his home in Maryland for California in 1882, with dreams of becoming a painter, he could not have imagined what great success awaited him, nor how closely he would become identified with the Golden Age of his adopted state. A talented musician, he played first violin for the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra while scraping together enough money to attend art school. Wachtel shared the passion of the French Impressionists for painting outdoors direct from nature, but the result is distinctly Southern Californian. Seascapes and coastal scenes were a favourite theme, as seen in The California Coast that is offered at the Californian &
Western Art sale in Los Angeles. The painting shows Wachtel's mastery, both of composition and of the contrasting play of natural light on land and water, which fascinated him throughout his working life.

Image: The California Coast by Elmer Wachtel Estimate: $100,000 - 120,000
Sale: California and Western Art
Los Angeles, 17 March
Enquiries: Scot Levitt,
[email protected]

Los Angeles
Light fantastic

If you have ever tried to blow glass, or even just watched it being done, you will know how fiendishly difficult it is to get right. The technique takes years of practice to perfect. The American glass-artist Dale Chihuly started his career in 1965 and is now regarded as one of the world's masters, having taken the ancient art to new heights. Following the practices of the legendary Murano glass- producers in Venice, Chihuly works with teams of glassblowers to produce pieces on a scale that would be impossible if undertaken alone. The Clear and Gold Chandelier to be offered in Los Angeles in March is a perfect example of this approach. The chandelier is huge. Executed in 2000, it is 396cm by 396cm or, in imperial measurement, 13ft by 13ft – twice the length of an average double bed. Chihuly has been described as a sculptor in glass. It is hard to disagree.

Image: Clear and Gold Chandelier by Dale Chihuly
Estimate: $100,000 - 150,000 Sale: Modern Design | Art
Los Angeles, 29 March
Enquiries: Jason Stein
[email protected]

Chairman Hu

Bonhams Taiwan has moved to a brand new office in Taipei as part of the company's long-term strategy in the region. Conveniently located in the centre of the city, the new space measures about 100 square metres, has dedicated facilities for client meetings and provides plenty of room for showcasing the highlights of upcoming sales. The office move was masterminded by Bobbie Hu – who was recently appointed Bonhams Chairman, Greater China, and is based in Taipei – and Edward Wilkinson, Executive Director, Asia.

Enquiries: Bobbie Hu
[email protected]

Currie in favour

The Scottish painter Ken Currie is a great admirer of George Grosz and Otto Dix, German artists of the early 20th-century Neue Sachlichkeit ('New Objectivity') movement. His Night Out, which comes to the Scottish sale in Edinburgh in May, is a perfect example of their influence on his work, with its highly political content and visceral images of social deprivation. Painted in 1988 at Currie's Gallowgate studio in Glasgow, the painting depicts the block bars and heavy-drinking culture of a community devastated by the decline of heavy industry. Three menacing figures – one dressed as a skeleton and sporting the red liberty cap of the French Revolution (and a Hitlerian moustache); another playing the flute to evoke the Orange marching bands – trample over a man, whose walking stick, books and glasses have been sent flying across the pavement. The books are a recurring Currie motif, reflecting the Glasgow tradition of working-class self- education from which so many political and trade union figures sprang.

Image: Night Out by Ken Currie
Estimate: £40,000 - 60,000
Sale: The Scottish Sale Edinburgh, 20 May
Enquiries: Chris Brickley
[email protected]

Signature edition

Imagine being the first person to read one of the most famous books in the world. Somebody who has had that privilege is Bryony Evens. In 1996, while working for a literary agency, she picked up a three-chapter submission from the slush pile and plunged into the world of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Hooked, Bryony asked J.K. Rowling to send the entire book, and the rest is history. Bryony has told her story many times – she even appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show – and now she is selling her personal signed copy of the novel at the Fine Books and Manuscripts sale in London in March. She didn't actually meet J.K. Rowling until 1988, when she queued up for a signature at the Cheltenham Literary Festival. The author's inscription speaks for itself: 'To Bryony – who is the most important person I've ever met in a signing queue & the first person ever to see merit in Harry Potter. With huge thanks J.K. Rowling'. The 'huge' is underlined four times.

Image: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, signed and inscribed by the author J.K. Rowling
Estimate: £70,000 - 90,000
Sale: Fine Books, Atlases, Manuscripts & Historical Photographs, Knightsbridge, 11 March
Enquiries: Luke Batterham
[email protected]


For aficionados of Triumph motorcycles, the name Les Williams has as much cachet as the machines he worked with. Williams was manager of the firm's factory works racing team, overseeing victories across
the 1960s and '70s, including at the Thruxton 500 and Bol d'Or races. He was also the co-creator of 'Slippery Sam', the Triumph Trident T150 that would go on to win five consecutive TT production races, and he later invented the limited-edition Triumph Legend. It may come as a surprise, then, that his own collection comprised rival British marques – notably including a 1930 AJS 350cc, one of the most successful Grand Prix campaigners of its era. It is offered at the Spring Stafford Sale – the motorcycle team's annual season opener – which will feature machines spanning more than a century of history and innovation, from early pioneers in the field to 21st-century superbikes.

Image: The ex-Les Williams, 1930 AJS 350cc R7 Racing Motorcycle
Estimate: £25,000 - 35,000
Sale: The International Classic MotorCycle Show, 24-26 April Enquiries: Ben Walker
[email protected]

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