Photographs from the Tom Birch Collection

January 26 - March 2, 2019

MANUEL ALVAREZ-BRAVO
Striking Worker Murdered
1934, printed later
gelatin silver, signed in pencil below image
7.5" x 9.75" (image size)

GRACIELA ITURBIDE
Mujer Angel, Mexico
1979
gelatin silver
8.25" x 11.5" (image size)

ANSEL ADAMS
Cedar Trees, Winter, Yosemite
1949, printed later
gelatin silver, mounted, initialed below image
9.5" x 7" (image size)

BERNICE ABBOTT
Janet Flanner
1927, printed later
gelatin silver print, signed on mount, lower right
13" x 10.25"

HELEN LEVITT
Children With Masks, New York
1948, printed later
gelatin silver
6.25" x 8" (image size)

MERRY ALPERN
#27 Window Series, Ed. 11/30
1994
gelatin silver
17" x 12" (image size)

U.S. NAVY
Pearl Harbor Bombing, 1941
c. 1941
vintage contact print, gelatin silver
5.5" x 4.75" (image size)

RUTH THORNE-THOMSEN
Chair Over Point, Wisconsin
1983
toned gelatin silver
5.25" x 4.5" (image size)

KARL STRUSS
Vanishing Point II: Brooklyn Bridge from New York Side, ed. 22/75
1912
platinum print
3.75" x 4.75"

WILLIAM E. DASSONVILLE
Lifeboats, San Francisco
1925
vintage gelatin silver on Dassonville Charcoal Black paper
photographer's estate stamp on reverse of the print
8" x 9 7/8" (image size)

U.S. NAVY
Great Lakes Naval Training Station (British Flag)
1920
vintage gelatin silver
7.25" x 5.25" (image size)

UNDERWOOD & UNDERWOOD
Survivors of a ship torpedoed by U-Boat in Atlantic, February 25, 1918
gelatin silver
5.5" x 7.75" (image size)

RALPH STEINER
Clothesline, New York
1925, printed later
gelatin silver, signed on the mat, lower right, signed on verso
3.75" x 4.75" (image size)

ANONYMOUS
Lucia Zarate
c. 1879
Carte de Visite
4" x 2.5" (image size)

ANONYMOUS
Chang & Eng 
c. 1870s
Carte de Visite
4" x 2.5" (image size)

 

A. CLARKE BEDFORD
Mr. Peanut: Into the Light
1991
gelatin silver, sepia toned, mounted to card and trimmed 
8" x 6.75"

JACQUES-HENRI LARTIGUE
Mr. Folletete, & Tupy, Paris, 1912
mounted gelatin silver
9.5" x 10.75" (image size)

ROBERT FRANK
Venice-West, California
1956, printed later
gelatin silver print, signed, titled and dated on reco
8.5" x 12" (image size)

YEVGENY KHALDEI
Raising a Flag over the Reichstag, May 2, 1945
printed pater
gelatin silver
10.25" x 14.5"

JAN GROOVER
Untitled [still life]
1992
palladium print
11.75" x 18.75" (image size)

MANUEL ALVAREZ-BRAVO
Untitled (Street vendor's stand, Mexico)
1977
gelatin silver, signed and inscribed in pencil below image
7" x 9.5" (image size)

U.S. ARMY AIR CORPS
Bikini A-bomb Test
1946
gelatin silver
9" x 17.5" (image size)

JOEL-PETER WITKIN
Picasso en los Disparates de Goya, New Mexico
1988
toned gelatin silver
15" x 15" (image size)

JOEL-PETER WITKIN
Sins of Juan Miro
1981
toned gelatin silver
14.25" x 14.25" (image size)

ZEKE BERMAN
Rope and Chair
1984
gelatin silver
18.75" x 10"

KARL BLOSSFELDT
Urformen der Kunst: Maclaeya cordata #51
1928/1929
photogravure
10" x 7.5" (image size)

KARL BLOSSFELDT
Urformen der Kunst: Salvia aethiopis #65
1928/1929
Photogravure
10.5" x 7.5" (image size)

FELIX BONFILS
Athens: Pedestal of Agrippa
c. 1870
albumen print
11" x 8.75" (image size)

ANDRÉ KERTÉSZ
Alexander Calder, Paris
1929, printed later
gelatin silver
10.5" x 13.5" (image size)

DANNY LYON

Ellis Unit, 1968, Printed c. 1982

gelatin silver print, mounted, signed below image

7½" x 11"

RUTH THORNE-THOMSEN

Thunderhead, Colorado, Ed 14/25, 1986

toned gelatin silver print, contact printed from film

6" x 5"

 

LEE FRIEDLANDER

New York City, 1964

gelatin silver print, signed in pencil on verso

8¼" x 12¼"

 

ANSEL ADAMS

Yosemite Falls in Spring, Printed c. 1975

gelatin silver print, mounted, initialed below image

9.5" x 7"

ANDRÉ GELPKE

Florenz [horse in fountain], 1978

gelatin silver print

12½" x 8½"

STEVE SZABO

Wye River Series #1

gelatin silver print, mounted and signed below image

8" x 7¼"

There is something inherently strange about a photograph: its pretense of veracity, the illusion of an unpremeditated subject, and the feeling of an unmediated presence. Herein lies the beauty of the medium and the opportunity for collecting photographs to become an adventure. A collection of photographs can tell us many things. In the best photography collections, each photograph is a knot on a thread leading to ever deeper and more penetrating experiences of beauty. Sometimes it is an elusive beauty captured from the real world. Other times beauty is exposed within something boring, horrible or shocking, revealed by the craft of the photographer and the willingness of the viewer to engage.

The Tom Birch Collection tells us he collected fearlessly, always reaching for the next new beauty. In reviewing personal collections one becomes used to seeing the predictable pantomiming of the reassuring qualities of the museum’s canon. One sees collections based on themes that barely recognize the inner dynamic of individual artworks. Some collections reflect only the desire to soothe, never to challenge, when so much more can be experienced. It is clear Tom Birch was spurred onward by a willingness to explore the widest range of what photography had to offer. This manner of collecting nudges the idea of taste away from a fixed set of rules into an evolving narrative of personal discovery. For Tom, each photograph is a moment on a clock spinning backwards through his life, telling him of the places his consciousness occupied before and then after acquiring each picture.

Some collections are broken up among heirs, some rightly go to institutions, and others are sold. In the selling of the Birch collection there is the goal of setting the artworks free to travel into the hearts and minds of other people, expanding their experiences of strange and wonderful beauty. Now, it is time for each of the photographs to become milestones in other collectors’ lives.

Photographs from the Tom Birch Collection includes works by the below artists:

Ansel Adams

Merry Alpern

Manuel Álvarez Bravo

A. Clarke Bedford

Zeke Berman

Karl Blossfeldt

Félix Bonfils

William Dassonville

Robert Frank

Lee Friedlander

André Gelpke

Jan Groover

Graciela Iturbide

André Kertész

Yevgeny Khaldei

Jacques-Henri Lartigue

Helen Levitt

Danny Lyon

Ralph Steiner

Steve Szabo

Ruth Thorne-Thomsen

George Tice

Joel-Peter Witkin