Major Polaroid Collection, Including Works By Warhol and Adams, Lands in Vienna

Posted by David Ozanich — 29 Mar 2011

vienna2.jpgAnne Mealhie, France, 1982


WestLicht, a nonprofit photo gallery in Vienna, along with the Impossible Project, have combined resources to purchase, and keep intact, a collection of 4,500 Polaroids that were to have been auctioned off individually as a way to pay down the defunct camera company's debts.

In its early days, Polaroid's founder Edwin H. Land would provide free cameras and film to artists as means of publicizing his products' potential for artistic uses. Eventually his collection swelled to over 16,000 prints by luminaries such as Ansel Adams, Robert Frank, Chuck Close and Robert Rauschenberg. Most of these were stored in the United States and a Minnesota bankruptcy court ordered them sold off, which they were during a 2010 Sotheby's auction which raised $12.4 million.

However, a portion of the collection, known as the International Collection, was stored at the Musée de l'Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland. It was this 4,500 piece trove, including photos by Walker Evans, Ansel Adams, and Andy Warhol which was acquired by the Vienna gallery. Terms for the acquisition of the archive were not disclosed.

WestLicht has been in existence for about ten years and collects photographs and antique cameras. It also hosts rare camera and photography auctions. The Impossible Project was founded by aficionados of Polaroid who rallied together to save the defunct company's last manufacturing plant in the Netherlands in order to continue producing the film stock.

See a small slideshow featuring some of the collection here. The AP reports that "the exhibit, 'Polaroid (Im)possible - The Westlicht Collection', will run from June 17 to August 21."

So, in the immortal words of Billy Joel, "when will you realize, Vienna waits for you?" Hope to see you there this summer!

vienna1.jpgWalker Evans, United States, 1976

Via Arts Beat.

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