There’s another interesting free attraction in New York City besides the Staten Island Ferry. Ruth & I had tickets to matinees at 2 pm so couldn’t go far. I suggested we walk to the International Center for Photography on 6th Avenue. It was on our Manhattan Midtown Edition map and close. When we arrived there, we were informed that the museum moved to Lower Manhattan 2 years ago. “Why is it still in this location on our map?” I asked a completely indifferent young woman. We headed for Rockefeller Center and the Museum of Television and Radio, which was also on the map. It’s now the Paley Center and was never a museum. Wandering around Rockefeller Center, we unexpectedly spotted Christie’s. I had read that it was opened to the public. It was Wednesday. The well-dressed couple who greeted us told us that public viewing began the next day at 10 am.
We went back and discovered what amounts to a free museum. Christie’s was founded by James Christie in London in 1766. It now has 350 auctions annually in 80 categories, like watches and wine. It’s in 46 countries and has 10 sales rooms. The one we visited was at 20 Rockefeller Plaza. What was on view were photographs from 3 collections, each from a famous photographer like Ansel Adams. There was detailed information next to all of them including what I assumed was either its estimated value or the range of expected bids. In one room a couple was examining jewelry.
There was a great variety of subjects on view. I found the photo of Andy Warhol showing the world a bullet hole in his torso a bit gruesome but still studied it for a long time.
After Ruth & I had wandered through every room, a sales person approached us and asked if he might help. I said I was disappointed that the works of my favorite photographer were not among the ones on view. He asked me the photographer’s name, and I came up with Garry Winogrand. “There will be 25 of those available in November!” he enthused and gave me his card. “We’re selling photographs from the Museum of Modern Art,” he added. We had already seen several from MoMA and also impressive ones from the Spiegel and Lappé collections. Expecting to hear “No”, I asked if I could take photographs of the photographs and he said “Of course!”
I checked Christie’s website just a few minutes ago to learn that the big guns up for auction this month include a Basquiat and a Giacometti. There were lots of auction results posted and stuff about valuation days. But if you’re in New York there are free viewings opened to the public from 10 to 5 pm before every auction. Check Christie’s website to find out what can be seen. Whatever was at the International Center of Photography could not have been as interesting as what we saw at Christie’s.