General Chuck Yeager (detail) by Bob Seidemann. ©Bob Seidemann.

Bob Seidemann’s ‘Airplane as Art’ Portfolio

ROCK ’N’ ROLL PHOTOGRAPHER’S COLLECTION FOCUSES ON AVIATION GENIUSES AND THEIR INCREDIBLE AIRCRAFT

By Hazel Kent

Though Bob Seidemann graduated from the Manhattan High School of Aviation Trades, a school for those looking to become aircraft engineers, he went on to earn a reputation as one of the most respected rock ’n’ roll photographers of his generation.

EVENT

PHOTOGRAPHS SIGNATURE ® AUCTION 5298
May 18, 2017
Live: New York
Online: HA.com/5298a

INQUIRIES
Nigel Russell
214.409.1231
NigelR@HA.com
To request a catalog, call 866.835.3243 or visit HA.com/Catalogs

 

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Vladimir
General Vladimir Ilyushin is the only man to have flown the intercontinental nuclear bomber prototype behind him. Photographed at the Russian Air Force Museum, south of Moscow, 1990.
©Bob Seidemann.
He was never captivated by the music, though, nor by the characters who peopled the industry during the 1960s and ’70s. Instead, throughout the years he spent photographing the likes of Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead, he was always more enamored by the comparatively unassuming yet visionary men who designed and created airplanes.

It was this lifelong personal passion that inspired what Nigel Russell, director of photographs at Heritage Auctions, describes as “certainly among the largest photography projects of the 20th century.”

From 1986 to 1997, Seidemann shot 302 images of the pioneers who shaped modern aviation and their aircraft.

Seidemann’s The Airplane as Art portfolio includes 94 portraits of renowned designers, engineers, test pilots, inventors, military heroes and cosmonauts, as well as 208 studies of planes, plane manufacturing, aircraft graveyards, and views from the air: a true homage to what Seidemann once described as the quintessential manifestation of our humanness – tool-making.

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F-86 Wreck
F-86 wreck with skull, China Lake Naval Weapons Station, 1987. ©Bob Seidemann.

In one image, a stoic-looking Joseph Sutter poses in front of the looming nose of a Boeing 747, for which he led the design team. In another, the hulks of decommissioned B-52s sit rusting in the desert at Edwards Air Force Base.

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Pair of SR-71
A pair of SR-71 reconnaissance jets parked at the Lockheed facility in Palmdale, Calif., 1998. ©Bob Seidemann.

While all of the prints are signed by the photographer, 10 of the 20 total sets contain portraits also signed by the sitter. “One of the amazing things about this project,” Russell says, “is that after photographing so many key figures in aviation, Seidemann went back and got their autographs.”

The collection being offered at Heritage’s May 18 photographs auction is one the rare double-signed boxed sets. Two of the others have found homes at the J. Paul Getty Museum and, fittingly, the Boeing Company. 

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Complete Portfolio
Bob Seidemann (b.1941)
The Airplane as Art, 1986-2000
Portfolio of 302 Photographs
Estimate: $150,000-$250,000

BID NOW

 

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