Largest known private library of 20th & 21st century books on to be offered at auction

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Largest known private library of 20th & 21st century books on to be offered at auction
Andy Warhol, first edition, original floral wrappers, Stockholm, Moderna Museet, 1968. £300-£400 (lot 251).

LONDON.- Forum Auctions will offer the largest known private library of 20th and 21st century books on Art, Photography, Fashion and Design. The collection of more than 2,500 books has been painstakingly curated over the last 30 years, by the renowned creative genius Håkan Rosenius, celebrated for revolutionising famous fashion brands, such as Browns, Joseph, Missoni, Paul Smith & Asprey. The collection includes rare and unusual works, many of which are in deluxe limited editions, often containing a signed original photograph, and hard to find catalogues from outstanding exhibitions. The books, which are all in exceptional condition, are to be offered in an online sale at Forum Auctions, titled Flair: Fashion, Photography and Design – the library of Håkan Rosenius from Thursday 9th March, 2023 at 12:00pm.

Commenting on this exceptional collection, fashion designer Sir Paul Smith said: “This is a diverse collection of books. All of them very special in their own right and to tell the truth all my favourites! I especially love Alexey Brodovitch who is one of my all-time heroes. He had such an amazing style. His book Ballet is a perfect example of this. Richard Avedon’s work is strong, powerful, new, innovate especially in Nothing Personal and Observations both of which have no photography on the cover just powerful graphics. Book collecting is an addiction – I know because I have the bug! And, if you start with say photography, you can find so many other subjects which crossover each other and so it’s easy to get carried away. Art, Photography, Design, Interiors & Fashion are just some of the subjects in this superb collection.”

Håkan’s interest in art and photography began at a young age with visits to two major exhibitions. The first was an indoor sculpture installation at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm by the artists Niki de Saint-Phalle, Jean Tinguely and Per Olof Ultvedt in 1966. The avant-garde sculpture comprised an 82ft reclining woman, constructed out of chicken wire and canvas, which contained a theatre, milk bar in one of the female’s breasts and a pond and play area, which visitors scandalously entered through the woman’s vagina. After the three month run small portions of the installation were attached to limited edition copies of the catalogue, leaving only the head as an exhibit in the museum. The installation broke boundaries and spiked an interest for Håkan. The book accompanying the exhibition titled Hon - en (Katedral) Historia, is number 27 of 150 and features in the sale (lot 248). It is estimated to fetch £1,000-£1,500.

A second visit to the Moderna Museet in Stockholm was to see Andy Warhol’s first retrospective exhibition in 1968, where the artist had a huge influence on Håkan’s own creative leanings. The scarce catalogue for the show is being offered in this sale and is estimated to fetch £300-£400 (lot 251).

Håkan began collecting books on subjects that he was passionate about, always looking for those that were in pristine condition, or were rare and in many cases first editions. His areas of interest soon expanded from art to include interiors, fashion and photography. His creative roles took him abroad on projects, where he would seize the opportunity to go to an exhibition or visit an art gallery and antique shops. It was also in his prestigious creative roles that he would often be given signed copies of works by leading designers and fashion icons, which he kept for sentimental reasons. One such meeting led to an interest in pioneering photography, as Håkan recalls meeting the American fashion photographer Bruce Weber during his book signing, when working with Paul Smith and years later Weber commenting that Håkan had more of Weber’s books than he had! Many of these Weber books will be offered in the sale (lots 189-195).

A book that inspired an entire creative campaign for Håkan while at Paul Smith’s is A Wonderful Time: An Intimate Portrait of the Good Life by Slim (George Allen) Aarons (1916-2006). The book, which was produced in 1974 captures the wealthy at play in various luxurious locations (the photographs were taken for glossy magazines such as Vanity Fair, Town & Country and Vogue). Håkan tells us: “Such was the power of these ground-breaking images that I developed an entire creative campaign for Paul Smith around its imagery and energy, for example we used the swimming pool images for a very successful fashion launch.” The copy being offered in the sale is a first edition and carries an estimate of £300-£400 (lot 27).

Other highlights include a deluxe copy of the Christie’s catalogue of the sale of Princess Diana’s dresses in 1997. The catalogue offered here is one of only 250 deluxe copies signed by Princess Diana. It carries an estimate of £3,000-£4,000 (lot 7). One of the star lots of the sale is an almost complete set of Visionaire, the fashion magazine (vol.1 to 64). Some issues were produced in several variants and it is extremely rare to find all the variants together. Among them is No. 30, titled: The Game, which relates to the Louis Vuitton sailing race and the seven variant copies for the countries competing in the sailing races to qualify for the America’s Cup. Håkan was very lucky in being able to choose all variants directly from the publishers, making this a truly unique offering. The issues date from 1991-2014 and the set carries an estimate of £15,000-£20,000 (lot 9).

The collection also includes photobooks by other well-known names such as the influential American fashion and fine art photographer, Richard Avedon (lot 40 An Autobiography, signed by Avedon, with 2 photographic prints depicting Jean Shrimpton and Jasper Johns, estimate £2,000-£3,000), the American artist Ed Ruscha, most well-known for his impact on the pop art movement (lot 157 Some Los Angeles Apartments, estimate £1,800-£2,200), American fashion photographer Bruce Weber (lot 192 Rowdy, first edition, a memorial to his golden retriever believed to be one of only a few copies for presentation to friends, estimate £1,200-£1,800), singer David Bowie (lot 205 Moonage Daydream: The Life and Times of Ziggy Stardust, signed by Bowie and Mick Rock, estimate £1,000-£1,500), and the German-Australian photographer Helmut Newton (lot 133 Sumo, first edition, signed by Newton, estimate £3,000-£4,000).

Commenting on his collection Håkan said: “This library has been a passion project that has evolved over my lifetime and when someone purchases something, they will be attaining a very personal memory, not just of mine but in history, as many pay homage to a designer or photographer or artist at a specific time. They will also be obtaining the very finest version of the work, as I have always purchased the very best quality possible.”

Dido Arthur, Book Specialist at Forum Auctions said: “We are delighted to offer a collection that has been compiled with such attention to condition, quality and rarity. This collection is a smorgasbord of signed works and limited editions. The sale is a thrilling treasure trove for anyone interested in the areas of Fashion, Photography and Design.”

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