┬ęTony Vaccaro, Hitler's Window, Courtesy of Monroe Gallery


"There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs." - Ansel Adams

How does one define classic photography? However one interprets it, Classic Photography has always been an integral part of photo la, since its very beginnings in 1992 at Butterfield's (now Bonhams) Auction House. Classic photo la 2017 continues to present an important expanse of photography and photo-based art for our guests to view and enjoy at the fair.

photo la 2017 is proud to present a fantastic collection of classic images produced by world-renowned photographers, which will all be on view at this year's fair. Classic photo la presents the best classic photography around, and as Ansel Adams implies so eloquently, it celebrates those exceptional photographers who knew no bounds.

    Albert Renger-Patszch
    Alfred Eisenstatedt
    Andre Kertesz
    Annie Leibovitz
    Ansel Adams
    Arthur Siegel
    Bert Stern
    Bill Eppridge
    Bob Kolbrener
    Daido Moriyama
    Diane Arbus
    Dimitri Baltermants
    Edmund Teske
    Ellot Porter
    Else Thalemann
    Ervin Marton
    Eugene Harris
    Felice Beato
    Gabriel Figueroa
    Horace Bristol
    Ida Wyman
    Jack Welpott
    Jacques Henri Lartigue
    Jan Lauschmann
    Josef Sudek
    Ken Ohara
    Lisette Model
    Louis Faurer
    Max Yavno
    O. Winston Link
    Ralph Gibson
    Robert Capa
    Robert Heinecken
    Sid Avery
    Todd Walker
    W. Eugene Smith
    William Clift
    William Garnett
    William Klein
    Wynn Bullock

The Stars of "Oceans 11" Stage a Fight, 1960 Sid Avery mptvimages

There are many parameters to what the term "classic" can refer to. A dictionary definition includes the following:

  • judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind
  • a simple elegant style not subject to changes in fashion
  • a work of art of recognized and established value
  • a thing that is memorable, a very good example of its kind, excellent, timeless

    The most accepted definitions would be black and white photography from the 19th and 20th century. Alfred Stieglitz, Clarence White, Edward Steichen and F. Holland Day, the photo-secessionists, many of whom were published in Camera Work, the quarterly published by Alfred Stieglitz that gave wide exposure to many now considered classic photographers.

    Photographers working in the mid-20th century were producing what was for them, contemporary photography. The subject matter included still lifes, landscapes, nudes and architecture. With the passage of time, a sense of nostalgia for the way things were in a less complicated and complex society that these photographs depicted defined classic. With WWI and the depression what everyone concedes is classic was the documentary work produced through the U.S. government's Work Progress Administration (WPA) and the Farm Security Administration (FSA) which became the Office of War Information after WWII broke out. This gave work to many of the photographers we consider classic: Walker Evans, Ben Shahn, Arthur Rothstein, Berenice Abbott, Eudora Welty, Esther Bubley, Jack Delano, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee and Gordon Parks. They produced a body of work now considered classic but was actually documenting contemporaneous American life.

    Photography auctions over the past thirty years include repeat certain images every year. Perhaps that defines classic. The renown of the photographer, be it Cartier-Bresson, Josef Sudek, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston as well as Diane Arbus, Weegee, Lisette Model and Larry Clark have all produced classic images. But there are thousands of images created by hundreds of photographers without the name recognition that are also "classic". Classic photography doesn't just include work produced last century, or before. Much of William Eggleston's ground-breaking use of color, starting in the 1970's, is now considered classic. Perhaps a certain style could define it. A Josef Sudek still life and Danny Lyon's image of bikers crossing the Ohio River are both classics but they are as different as any two images can be.