News-Antique.com - Feb 11,2010 - New York, 11 February 2010 –Sotheby’s is to offer Photographs from the Polaroid Collection on 21 and 22 June 2010 in New York. The collection of more than 1,200 works provides unique insight into the influence of Polaroid’s revolutionary technology - which all but eliminated the distance between inspiration and realization - on the history of photography. The collection was begun by Edwin Land, the inventor and founder of Polaroid, and is vast in its breadth and ambition. Works by many of the leading photographers of the second half of the 20th century will be offered, among them Peter Beard, Chuck Close, William Wegman, David Levinthal, Robert Frank, David Hockney, Robert Mapplethorpe and, perhaps most significantly, Ansel Adams, who is represented by over 400 photographs. The collection is estimated to fetch $7.5/11.5 million.
The story of Land’s inspiration for Polaroid has become part of photographic legend. Vacationing with his family in Santa Fe in 1943, Land took a picture of his young daughter Jennifer, who asked her father why she couldn’t see the photograph instantly. For the brilliant Edwin Land, this was not merely a child’s simple question, but a challenge to be overcome. Within an hour, Land had contacted his attorney to begin the patent application process for a device that would produce photographs within minutes of the shutter’s click. It took Land only an afternoon to effectively invent the concept of instant photography and his first Land camera and film, which sold out within hours, was introduced to the market in a Boston department store in 1948.
“This will be the first time in the history of our market that we have offered a collection based upon a technology, rather than an artist or a theme,” said Denise Bethel, Director of the Photographs Department at Sotheby’s in New York. “Polaroid materials, in the hands of innumerable artists, re-defined the aesthetic of the 20th century. It’s a testament to the versatility of Land’s invention that his films and cameras attracted artists as diverse as Ansel Adams and Lucas Samaras. We are both thrilled and honored to be presenting such an amazing and historically significant body of work. Our pre-sale exhibition in June, which will take over most of our York Avenue premises, will be the only time most of these works will be seen together in a public setting.”
Edwin Herbert Land was born in Connecticut in 1909. After a year at Harvard, he moved to New York City, where, working alone and without backing, he perfected a light-polarizing material. In 1932, he joined forces with his former Harvard physics professor, George Wheelwright III, and their firm, Land-Wheelwright Laboratories, capitalized on Land’s new technology, with
applications as diverse as sunglasses, camera filters, and optical instruments. In 1937, the business became the Polaroid Corporation, and Land and the company went on to support the military community in the early 1940s with a variety of top-secret inventions, among them night goggles and enhanced munitions.