Lucas Samaras, Photo-Transformation, August 17, 1976
Andy Warhol, Debbie Harry, 1980
Due to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Minnesota’s ruling against Polaroid in 2009, the company had to sell part of its extensive photography collection to meet its creditors’ monetary demands. The sale took place in New York in June at Sotheby’s, and it seems an appropriate time to remember the amazing contributions that Polaroid has made to the art of photography.
In the 1960s Polaroid established its Artists Support Program in which it traded cameras and film to artists in exchange for their Polaroid prints. In this way, the company amassed a collection that includes works by Ansel Adams, Chuck Close, Lucas Samaras, Andy Warhol, and William Wegman. These artists, and many others, were drawn by the portability, immediacy, and simplicity (except for the 20 by 24 inch and 40 by 80 inch cameras) of Polaroid’s products.
The images above from ICP’s Collection both use Polaroid technology. Samaras used a SX-70 camera and manipulated the print during processing. Warhol used Polacolor Type 108 film.
For photo enthusiasts, the bad news of the court’s decision is that the company had to sell over 1,000 of its holdings. The good news is this number is roughly only 1% of its collection.