Revere Auctions
Live Auction

Fine and Decorative Arts: Day 1

Wed, Sep 23, 2020 11:00AM EDT
Lot 209

Alec Soth Photograph "Jim Wax Museum Hannibal Missouri"

Estimate: $2,000 - $4,000

Bid Increments

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$300 $50
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Alec Soth (b. 1969). Photograph titled "Jim, Wax Museum, Hannibal Missouri, 2002," from "Sleeping Along the Mississippi." Chromogenic print. Hand signed, titled, dated 2004, and numbered 1/5 on handwritten tag along the verso. With a gallery label from Weinstein Gallery, Minneapolis, Minnesota, adhered to the verso. Provenance: Weinstein Gallery, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Private collection, Minnesota Note: The proceeds from hammer price will benefit the Minneapolis College of Art and Design Scholarship Fund. Lot Essay: Alec Soth has made his name in the art world as a visual storyteller, walking the line between documentary and traditional art photography. The contents of his photographs vary broadly, consisting of whatever Soth feels is necessary to tell a story, including portraits, scenery, still lifes, even, in the case of Niagara, photographs of love letters. His photographs are arranged in books, each providing a cohesive narrative through images. His works are intimate and often bleak, showing the dark side of the American Dream. They are not without hope, though. Pathos sometimes overwhelms, but there are frequent glimmers of optimism, comfort and love. Soth’s photos present the realities of life in America lyrically yet unglamorously, beautiful and deeply bittersweet. Soth was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he now lives and works. He received his BA from Sarah Lawrence in photography in 1992. He spent much of his 20s working in a photo-processing lab, working on his own artistic endeavors on the side. He kept experimenting with different styles and formats of photography to find what worked best for him, almost giving up entirely before the publication of his breakout monograph Sleeping Along the Mississippi. He has subsequently published 24 books, forming his own publishing company, Little Brown Mushroom, in 2008. His work is featured in many public collections, and has won many awards, including the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. Soth works using an 8x10 large format camera, photographing both in color and black and white. In many ways, Soth’s work is the successor to the well-established American tradition of road trip photography. He often leaves on a trip with a list of items he might find taped to his steering wheel as a sort of itinerary of possible shots. He often ends up ignoring these, finding other people, objects and landscapes along the way that pique his interest. Soth puts a great deal of effort into choosing projects that speak to him and feel genuine to who he is as an artist. He is tremendously concerned with a feeling of authenticity in his work, and has described the process of choosing a project as being not unlike that of choosing a romantic partner: “‘Do I actually connect with this person, or are they just really attractive? Could I really fall in love with them?’ At some point, you have to let your initial excitement settle down, and then listen to that inner voice to discover how you honestly feel.” Sleeping Along the Mississippi is the record of a road trip Soth took down the Mississippi River. This is the book in which Soth firmly established his photographic style, finding the overlap between profundity and kitsch. It is fitting that his first major endeavor tackling his frequently revisited theme of Americana deals with the Mississippi, an enormous feature in the American geography and psyche. Jim, Wax Museum, Hannibal, Missouri depicts a wax figure of Mark Twain’s character Jim from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This figure is part of a wax museum in Mark Twain’s hometown of Hannibal, Missouri, which houses 27 wax figures of Twain characters and actual people from his life. These figures were constructed by wax sculptor Martin Krewson (1911-2012) in the 1970s. This photo speaks to the history of the Mississippi region and reactions to it. "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" is the best known work of American literature about the Mississippi River, and Jim is one of its most complex characters--a well-intentioned yet caricatured depiction of a former slave. The wax sculpture of Jim, in many ways like his character, is an uncomfortable caricature of an African-American man, and Soth throws this into sharp relief by quite literally depicting Jim in sharp contrast to all the blurry faces of the Caucasian figures behind him.In this photo, Soth gives a nod to the role of the Mississippi in the American South’s slave trade, as well as the continuing racism of today. It would be impossible to tell a thorough story of the Mississippi without acknowledging this past, and Soth does this subtly and beautifully through this photograph. He draws out these troubling aspects through the lens of deeply kitschy Americana, perfectly in keeping with the larger aesthetic of the book.
Sight; height: 39 1/2 in x width: 31 1/2 in. Framed; height: 41 in x width: 33 in.


Please contact us for a detailed condition report. Please note that the lack of a condition statement does not imply perfect condition. Email with any condition questions.

Please contact us for a detailed condition report. Please note that the lack of a condition statement does not imply perfect condition. Email with any condition questions.