British photographic history

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Philippe Garner retires from Christie's

Philippe Garner, who held the first photography auction in the United Kingdom in 1971 at Sotheby's and then moved, via Phillips, to Christie's in 2004, retired from the auction world on 31 May 2016.

Garner joined Sotheby's training scheme in 1970. In March 1971, he took charge of the fledgling department devoted to Art Nouveau and Art Deco and was also asked to coordinate the first specialist auction of photographs in the United Kingdom, scheduled for December 21st that year. Photographs were one of the new fields in the innovative programme of Sotheby’s Belgravia, a satellite auction project devoted to overlooked areas of the 19th and 20th centuries. After thirty-one years with Sotheby’s, Garner joined Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg in September 2002 and moved to Christie's in 2004 as their International Head of Photographs and of 20th Century Decorative Art & Design.

Garner has built an international reputation for the breadth and depth of his knowledge. Among the highlights of his auction career were the historic dispersals in 1999 and 2002 of photographs from the celebrated collection of Marie-Thérèse and André Jammes.  

Garner has been a trustee of the Photographers' Gallery, London and he currently sits on the Advisory Board of the National Media Museum and on the Board of the Helmut Newton Foundation. Among his particular interests is the story of fashion and its related areas of photography and he has published widely on this field, producing monographs on Cecil Beaton and 60s photographer John Cowan and essays on numerous photographers including Richard Avedon, Guy Bourdin, Helmut Newton, and Irving Penn.  Garner has also curated a number of exhibitions including ‘A Seaside Album – photographs and memory’ in 2003, drawn from his own collection of the history of photography in the town of Brighton, and ‘Antonioni’s Blow-Up’ in 2006, exploring photography within this cult film.  Garner was contributed texts to publications for the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the Albertina, Vienna, the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Garner received The Royal Photographic Society's Award for Outstanding Service to Photography in 2011.

He has been a key figure in the development of photography’s place in the art market as well as supporting photography more widely during his career.  A video of Garner talking about the market for photography and his role can be watched here

See also:

Image: Philippe Garner / © Christie's

This post was updated on 29 August 2016 with additional information supplied by Philippe Garmer. 

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Comment by Jonathan Dore on June 6, 2016 at 12:47

At the popular end of the scale, Philippe's work was also potentially seen my millions of schoolchildren when I commissioned him to write the major articles on the aesthetic and technical history of photography for Microsoft's Encarta Encyclopedia some twenty years ago.

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