Paintbrush and easel

by Dr. Lori Verderame

Imogen Cunningham was a young mother from California who had a major impact on American photographic history. Her work set a new standard for modernism.

Cunningham worked at her craft steadily and achieved her position as one of the most important photographers of her generation by capturing the flowers from her garden on film. From the basic floral forms, she transformed her subject into abstract images not unlike the grand flower paintings of her colleague, painter Georgia O’Keeffe. Cunningham took the form of a simple flower and produced a spectacular work of art.

New sales record for photograph

Cunningham’s photography turned the international art market on its head when her gelatin silver print, Magnolia Blossom: Tower of Jewels from 1925 sold at auction for $145,000, setting a new record.

While Cunningham’s image brought the highest prices ever paid for a photograph, the sale highlighted the strength of photography on the sales floor and demonstrated the interest in exhibiting modern photographs. From gelatin silver and platinum prints to cibachromes, ektachromes, and digital imagery, photographs are highly sought after and in high demand.

Collectors are looking, learning, and loving photographs. Color, black and white, cameraless work, cibachrome prints, platinum prints, pinhole prints, gelatin silver prints, and lately, digital imagery. No matter the format, photos are in high demand.

Photography’s history is comparatively short, beginning only in the latter part of the 1860s. If you want to read more about the history of photography, I suggest Naomi Rosenblum’s text called A World History of Photography which may be purchased online at

Get an online appraisal of your Imogen Cunningham photograph from Dr. Lori.