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February 22, 2010 4:27 AM   Subscribe

Controversial Auction Sells Warhols From Polaroid’s Collection

More than 1,200 works from Polaroid’s corporate collection, chronicling decades of artistic experimentation including Andy Warhol's Polaroid of Farrah Fawcett and Chuck Close's 9-Part Self Portrait and others who pushed the aesthetic boundaries of the instant-film process, will be hammered away by order of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota. The collection also includes non-Polaroid photographs acquired for Polaroid founder Edwin Land by his friend Ansel Adams. Adams bought works by top names such as Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston, Harry Callahan, Margaret Bourke-White and Dorothea Lange, including her famous Depression era “Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California,” which is valued at as much as $80,000.

The two-day auction is likely to rank among the biggest sales of corporate photography collections liquidated by a bankrupt company. Some photo historians and photographers oppose the sale. “The collection is going to be dispersed, which is against promises made to the photographers.”
posted by three blind mice (17 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
The collection is going to be dispersed, which is against promises made to the photographers.

Protip: Promises that aren't contracts mean nothing to corporations.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:49 AM on February 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why were you redirected to this page?

When we tested www.popcrunch.com/farrah-fawcett-and
y-warhol-polaroid-auction, it attempted to make unauthorized changes to our test computer by exploiting a browser security vulnerability. This is a serious security threat which could lead to an infection of your computer.
posted by efalk at 4:54 AM on February 22, 2010


Corporate art collections are interesting animals, having only the wisp of justification from a stockholder's point of view, and having everything to do with executive vanity, ambition, and the belief, cultivated by artists, gallery owners and curators, that corporate money can buy access to the sex, the risk and transcendent ecstasy of the arts. A corporate art collection is a staggering folly, but God bless 'em -- the arts need patrons -- and I have stared into the faces of CEOs and blandly pronounced the necessity of having a world-class corporate art collection to display the prestige of the organization, boost employee morale, and proclaim to the world that they are a great humanistic as well as capitalistic enterprise. Indeed, I would say that any amount of shareholder value is worth burning on the pyre of the arts to have produced that golden, breathtaking portrait of Farrah Fawcett -- the sight of which has already made my morning delightful.
posted by Faze at 4:57 AM on February 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Corporate art collections are interesting animals, having only the wisp of justification from a stockholder's point of view

This particular case isn't really like Goldman Sachs buying a bunch of Picassos to decorate its offices. This is like Nike paying Tiger Woods to use its golf clubs. The artists got free materials to work with, and Polaroid benefited from the prestige of having art photographers using Polaroid film.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:12 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Polaroids are great for collectors, though; each one is unique and unreproducible. Unlike most other forms of photography today, there's a built-in guarantee with a Polaroid that you're holding the original.

That said…
That belongs in a museum!
As do I.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:12 AM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Art Market Monitor has been following this closely: Unanswered Polaroid Questions, including this from former Whitney Museum Director, David Ross:

I know this as there was a move afoot during the 90’s to donate the “collection” to the Whitney Museum of American Art while I was its director, and I recall that the restrictions of selling the work led the already cash-starved company to consider the gift as it was consistent with the agreements that Polaroid had entered into with the participating artists.
posted by R. Mutt at 6:49 AM on February 22, 2010


Protip: Promises that aren't contracts mean nothing to corporations. bankruptcy court.
posted by electroboy at 6:54 AM on February 22, 2010


I think it has to do with the Tom Petters fraud case. He's no Bernie Madoff, but we're not quite as grandiose here in the Heartland.
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:24 AM on February 22, 2010


Systems tend to progress in the direction of increasing entropy, where's the controversy?
posted by furtive at 7:25 AM on February 22, 2010


Protip: Promises that aren't contracts mean nothing to...bankruptcy court.

Um, no. This is not a court-ordered sale:

The Minnesota Bankruptcy Court is definitely *not* “forcing Polaroid to sell a portion of its collection at Sotheby’s.” The Minnesota Bankruptcy Court has merely endorsed the debtors’ fervent plea to allow this sale to go forward; it didn’t require it of them. In short, the current holders of the collection initiated this sale, not the court; the fact that this will happen under a ruling known generically as a court order should not get interpreted as the court requiring reluctant parties to conduct a fire sale. In this case, the sellers can’t wait to get rid of the stuff, in which they have no interest outside of its cash value.

Looks like the guy who's really been digging here is A. D. Coleman at Photocritic International. <>the disappearance of about 1/3 of the collection. Oh, and some of the artists apparently did have signed agreements with Polaroid.
posted by mediareport at 7:40 AM on February 22, 2010


Oops, that last paragraph should read:

Looks like the guy who's really been digging here is A. D. Coleman at Photocritic International. That post (his 13th on the sale) looks like a good place to start and includes a link to his investigation of the disappearance of about 1/3 of the collection. Oh, and some of the artists apparently did have signed agreements with Polaroid.
posted by mediareport at 7:41 AM on February 22, 2010


It doesn't say anything to this effect, and I know her "position" is entirely promotional, but it seems like there must be some connection between appointing Warhol-freak Lady Gaga as a "creative director", then auctioning off Warhol photos from your corporate archive shortly after.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:08 AM on February 22, 2010


Um, no. This is not a court-ordered sale:

Doesn't matter whether it was ordered. They asked if they could sell and the court granted permission. Based on the various links, it looks like the artists' rights, which were minimal, were probably voided during the last bankruptcy.
posted by electroboy at 8:18 AM on February 22, 2010


Can they use the money raised from this sale to, I dunno, manufacture some film for the billions of $2 thrift store cameras that can use it? Because that would be awesome.
posted by majick at 8:34 AM on February 22, 2010


FYI, Taschen published a book on the collection: The Polaroid Book
posted by Omon Ra at 8:56 AM on February 22, 2010


majick: they're in the process relaunching integral instant film with the help of The Impossible Project, who bought the last remaining Polaroid factory when it shut down.
posted by zsazsa at 9:23 AM on February 22, 2010


I guess they had to pay for Lady Gaga somehow.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:06 PM on February 22, 2010


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