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200 unpublished prints from archives of the famous LIFE magazine go on sale

LIFE magazine archives 200 unpublished images foro auction in paris
Close up of Argentinian race car driver, Juan Manuel Fangio, in rearview mirror - 1957 (Image credit: ©Howard Sochurek // The LIFE Picture Collection)

The French auction house, Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr, is expected to hold a sale of up to 200 prints and unpublished images heralded from the archives of legendary LIFE Magazine, taking place and exhibiting in Paris on September 22, 2022.

For only the second time in Europe, unpublished photos and archived content from the magazine will be exhibited and offered at auction, with estimates ranging from between 1,000 to 4,000 euros (around $3,974 / £3,473 /AU$5,917).

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LIFE magazine was created in 1936 by the co-founder of Time Magazine, Henri Luce. Published weekly, and then monthly, up until the 2000s - in 1960, the magazine then became the most widely distributed magazine in the world!

Considered to be an important foundational reference for photojournalism, LIFE magazine employed world-renowned photographers and photojournalists for over 70 years, including the likes of Gordon Parks, John Dominis, Margaret Bourke-White, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Nina Leen, and Andreas Feininger. 

The Golden Years of LIFE (opens in new tab) is the exhibition and auction catalog title, as well as the result of extensive research into LIFE magazine's archives, with a focus on the iconography of America's golden years. The exhibition and image assets that will be on sale document historical moments from the end of the 1929 stock market crash, just before the magazine's creation, and up until the end of the 1960s. 

Auction catalog cover (Image credit: ©The LIFE Picture Collection)
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Most of the lots (about 1/3 of them) are in color, offering a very dynamic selection of photographs for the sale, that evoke the true aesthetic of the 1950s and 1960s America, with US culture being at the essence of each unpublished shot, showcasing drive-ins to the first supermarkets, New York's neon lights, and LAs Vegas streets.

A whole host of themes and interesting occasions are covered, too, including boxing matches in Madison Square Garden, images of The Beatles in a Chicago nightclub, and Marilyn Monroe pictured on movie sets. 

Actor Gary Lockwood walking in a space suit during the filming of the motion picture 2001 A Space Odyssey - USA 1966 (Image credit: ©Dmitri Kessel // The LIFE Picture Collection)
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LIFE magazine has one of the largest photographic collections in the world, with 10 million photographs having been taken across more than 100,000 assigned stories. The magazine illustrated the golden age of photojournalism and brought to light the myth of the photo reporter. LIFE was created, as its founder Henri Luce wrote: "To see life, to see the world, to eyewitness great events...". 

Men working on giant pipes used to divert a section of the Missouri River during the construction of Fort Peck Dam in Montana - Fort Peck 1936  (Image credit: ©Margaret Bourke-White // The LIFE Picture Collection)
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Some highlights and estimates from the auction sale include: 

- A close-up shot of Argentinian race car driver, Juan Manuel Fangio, in the rearview mirror, in 1957, captured by Howard Sochurek. Estimate: €2,000 - €3,000.

- Ballerinas standing on a windowsill in a rehearsal room at George Balanchine's School of American Ballet. New York City, United States, in 1936 shot by Alfred Eisenstaedt. Estimate: €3,000 - €4,000.

- Actor Gary Lockwood walking in a space suit during the filming of the motion picture ‘2001: A Space Odyssey'. Photographed in America, in 1966 by Dmitri Kessel. Estimate: €1,500 - €2,500.

Astronaut John Glenn in a Mercury program pressure suit and helmet - Florida 1959 (Image credit: © Ralph Morse // The LIFE Picture Collection)
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The prints for sale at this auction in Paris are extremely high-quality modern prints, created with techniques that have been exclusively reserved for this auction, and selected according to the nature of each image. 

The color prints are said to have been produced partly using Fujiflex paper with an ultra-bright finish, as well as the unique Fresson process (direct carbon prints with a matte finish and saturated colors).

Be sure to check out the astounding images up for grabs via the LIFE magazine auction catalog (opens in new tab), and have your wallet ready if you're lucky enough to afford any of the historical prints that will be available on September 22 at Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr, 6 avenue Hoche, 75008, in Paris, France. 

Ballerinas standing on window sill in rehearsal room at George Balanchine's School of American Ballet - NYC 1036 (Image credit: ©Alfred Eisenstaedt // The LIFE Picture Collection)
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You may also want to take a look at our guides to the best books on photography (opens in new tab), as well as the best cinema cameras (opens in new tab), and the best film cameras (opens in new tab).

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.