The Polaroid Collection

26 May - 05 Aug 2012

Paul Huf
Untitled 1977
Polaroid Type 808
8 × 10”
© Paul Huf/ VBK Wien, 2011
26 May - 5 August 2012

NRW-Forum Duesseldorf to show the legendary Polaroid Collection with over 500 examples from the history of Instant Photography. From Ansel Adams to Andy Warhol.

A huge outcry erupted on the international photo circuit, when in 2009 both parts of the Polaroid Collection in the USA and in Europe were to be auctioned off at Sotheby’s in the process of dealing with the assets of the insolvent company. Lead by Chuck Close, many artists, museums and photo aficionados protested against the sale of the 16.000 images encompassing collection. At the last moment the Vienna museum WestLicht managed to acquisition the European part of the collection and keep it in its entirety.

“The aesthetic purpose of the new camera is to make available a new medium of expression to those who have an artistic interest in the world around them.”
(Edwin Land 1948)

Edwin Land launched the revolutionary new instant image technology in New York in 1947. Two years later he met Ansel Adams, a master of camera technique as well as the art of photography, and the new concept of a corporate collection for Polaroid started taking on shape. Instant image material was to be tested by artists and photographers, contributing to the constant improvement and development of Polaroid films. As a mentor and early contributor of the project Ansel Adams had the idea to organise exhibitions, featuring pieces by well-known contemporary artists. During the 1950s more advisors joined the team, amongst them Minor White,
Paul Caponigro and William Clift. Their images built the fundament of the Polaroid Collection.

During the 1960s a special support program was installed. It was the beginning of
a long-standing collaboration with selected photographers who received cameras and film material in return for contributing works to the collection. Many contributors to the program were well known photographers, searching for new ways of artistic expression. Additionally, Polaroid was interested in commissioning up and coming young artists for the collection. Using this model, an international component of the Polaroid Collection was established at Polaroid’s international headquarters in Amsterdam. Founded in the mid 1960s, this unique corpus encompasses 4400 pieces by 800 international artists.

Showcasing selected masterpieces from Ansel Adams to Andy Warhol, this exhibition presents a first cross-section of this unique collection, plus an enlarged selection of German photographers in the collection.

The exhibition is generously lent by WestLicht and curated by Rebecca Reuter.

Tags: Ansel Adams, Chuck Close, Andy Warhol