Fine Prints & Photography
October 26 — 31, 2019
Auction begins to close at 2 pm ET
Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) & Wolf Koenig (1927-2014)
Lot 92 Details
Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) & Wolf Koenig (1927-2014), French/Canadian
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CARTIER-BRESSON (1908-2004) AND WOLF KOENIG (1927-2014) FROM THE PRODUCTION OF THE FILM "LE QUÉBEC VU PAR CARTIER-BRESSON" 1969, AND THREE BOOKS BY CARTIER-BRESSON
The lot includes:
One photograph by Cartier-Bresson:
“Portrait of two women at a reception” (From the National Film Board’s, "Le Québec vu par Cartier-Bresson"), 1969
Black and white silver print mounted to a support; the backboard inscribed “Original photograph / By Henri Cartier-Bresson / Taken for the film “Le Quebec-De Henri Cartier-Bresson” (NFB)” in pen and ink verso
Two photographs by Wolf Koenig:
"Henri Cartier-Bresson with his Camera" (two variant views), 1969:
Two silver prints, one on Agfa paper, the top edge with staple holes, folded backwards; inscribed at the top edge centre: “H. CARTIER-BRESSON” and inscribed at the top right edge: “150/B” in pencil, further annotated: “Henri Cartier-Bresson / photographed by Wolf Koenig/ for the film on him - while C-B was in Montreal” in pen and ink verso, the other on Fujifilm paper
Accompanied by three books by Cartier-Bresson including:
1. "Photographs” by Cartier-Bresson (Grossman, New York, 1963). Presumed 1st American hardcover edition with 47 black and white photographs plus a few forward pages of text. Dust jacket;
2. "The Europeans / Photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson" (Simon and Schuster in Collaboration with Editions Verve of Paris, 1955).
First edition in English. Cover designed and executed by Joan Miro, containing a selection of 114 photographs (many double-page) by Henri Cartier-Bresson taken from 1950-1955. Ex-Libris “Wolf Koenig”, his pen and ink signature on the front free end paper; presentation copy, autographed and inscribed “To Wolf Koenig amicalement from H.C.B.” to the half-title page, the typeset title “The Europeans” re-titled "some Europeans" in pen and ink by Cartier- Bresson;
3. "The Decisive Moment" (Simon & Schuster, 1953). Cover design made especially for the book by Henri Matisse (with reproduction of his signature on back cover). This edition features a selection of 126 photographs of Henri Cartier Bresson. Caption booklet laid in.
The lot also includes a hand-written letter from Cartier-Bresson to Wolf Koenig addressed to him at the National Film Board, Montreal, contained in the original mailing envelope, post-marked “Cocoa Beach, Florida: June 28’67", and with Cartier-Bresson’s hand-written name and return address ℅ Mrs. Helen Wright / New York in pen and ink to the verso of the envelope;
Also including a four-page typed essay by Koenig in which he described the tumultuous effect of encountering Mr. Cartier-Bresson's words and pictures as a 28-year-old aspiring filmmaker desperate to embrace the possibility of moving outside the studio to film real people in their own milieux.
Various sizes 8 x 12 in — 20.3 x 30.5 cm; 9.4 x 14 in — 24 x 35.5 cm; 14.5 x 10.75 in — 36.8 x 27.3 cm
The Estate of Wolf Koenig, Ontario;
By descent to his brother, Joseph Koenig, Toronto, ON;
The Estate of Joseph Koenig, Toronto, ON
Martin, Sandra. "For Wolf Koenig, it was about framing that decisive moment." The Globe and Mail [Toronto] 24 August, 2014, updated 12 May, 2018. Web. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/film/for-wolf-koenig-it-was-about-framing-that-decisive-moment/article20187065/ for items mentioned in this lot.
"The Europeans," along with "The Decisive Moment" are Henri Cartier- Bresson’s finest books.
Cartier-Bresson visited Quebec in May 1965 at the invitation of the NFB. Wolf Koenig, whose collection of books and letters from his friend Cartier-Bresson being offered in this lot, was a Canadian film director, producer, animator, cinematographer, and a pioneer in Direct Cinema at the National Film Board of Canada. Koenig directed Cartier-Bresson’s 10 minute film, “Le Quebec” in 1969.
This special collection from the Estate of Wolf Koenig, by descent through the family, contains photographs, books and letters with direct Cartier-Bresson provenance. They have remained in the Koenig family until now.
Martin writes in her 2014 obituary for Koenig: “In the early 1950s, Mr. Koenig was given a copy of the great French photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson's 'The Decisive Moment,' a collection of his photos and an essay." This book explained Cartier-Bresson's philosophy that "photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression." Mr. Koenig was dumbfounded. This was exactly what he and his colleagues were trying to do in film. He talked about the book over sandwiches at work and he kept his copy for the rest of his life. When he met Mr. Cartier-Bresson during a shoot in Montreal in 1998, the legendary photojournalist autographed the book "À Wolf Koenig … En souvenir de bien des moments au Canada qu'il a rendu decisifs sur film."