Posts Tagged ‘sotheby’s’

Photographers Raise Concern Over Polaroids on Sotheby’s Auction Block

We reported last month that the New York auction house, Sotheby’s will be facilitating the sale of more than 1,200 photos from the Polaroid company’s collection this June. The photos include images captured by legendary photographers and artists such as Ansel Adams and Andy Warhol. Sotheby’s estimates that the collection will raise some $7.5 million to $11.5 million, which will go towards paying for Polaroid’s Minnesota bankruptcy court.

Yet while Polaroid regains its financial footing, several featured photographers feel they are at a loss — if the photos change hands, they may lose their contractual rights.

According to the British Journal of Photography, some of the photographers are motioning for a re-hearing, hoping that the courts will reconsider selling the collection.

When the auction was first announced, photographer Chuck Close shared his disapproval in an interview with the New York Times that such a groundbreaking collection should go to the auction block:

“There’s really nothing like it in the history of photography.” But, he added, “to sell it is criminal.”

While the sale of these images is not technically illegal, the copyright laws are muddied in this situation. Typically, when a print is sold, the artist or photographer retains the copyright, along with the ability to reproduce his or her image. However, with these Polaroid images, the original image is unique.

Originally, when the artists gave the images to the Polaroid collection, their contracts granted them perpetual access to their work. But when the auction occurs, the contract will be nullified once the work is sold. Since the one of a kind images shot on instant film cannot be replicated, the artists require direct access to their work in order to license it.

In an interview with the British Journal of Photography, American critic Allan Coleman sums up the problem:

“Since they don’t have access, they can’t license the works. All they have is the copyright, which is meaningless now. I don’t think the court understood the unique nature of the collection.”

(via The British Journal of Photography)

Image Credits: 9-Part Self Portrait by Chuck Close and Farrah Fawcett by Andy Warhol, courtesy of Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s Auctions off Historic Polaroid Images

It’s no secret that Polaroid has seen its share of financial troubles over the last few years. This year, Polaroid will be forced to bring some of its historic prints and images to Sotheby’s auction block in order to offset debts incurred as a result of its current bankruptcy, the New York Times reports.

In the lineup are some 400 photos by Ansel Adams, and work by artistic legends such as Andy Warhol, Chuck Close, and Robert Mapplethorpe. The auction will be held in Sotheby’s New York, the Times cites that is expected to bring in $7.5 million to $11.5 million.

Featured photographers have mixed feelings about the auction; many feel that the historic collection is museum-worthy, the Times quotes:

“It’s an amazing body of work,” Mr. Close said in a telephone interview. “There’s really nothing like it in the history of photography.” But, he added, “to sell it is criminal.”

The collection was initiated and owned by Polaroid founder, Edwin H. Land, who made sure creative minds of his time had a chance to use and tinker with his product, and give him hands-on professional feedback, the Times noted:

It was a handy arrangement, the collection’s longtime curator, Barbara Hitchcock, explained: Polaroid provided some of the greatest talents around with equipment and film, and they gave the company photographs. “Experimentation was encouraged by Polaroid,” Ms. Hitchcock added. “It was a mantra — experimentation, creativity, innovation, pushing the envelope of photography.”

These early Polaroid images provide fascinating glimpses into the work of famous photographers, as well as into the early development of a consumer camera culture that transcended merely functioning as an industry — though ironically, the company would later fall on hard times as a struggling industry.

Some of the remarkable pieces up for auction can be viewed on the NYT’s Lens Blog.

(via The New York Times)

Image Credit: Polaroid Land Camera 320 by Latente