Sotheby’s contacted Art Market Monitor today to clarify a few of the issues surrounding the June sale of the Polaroid of 1200 photographs from the 14,000-item Polaroid collection. Besides wanting to point out that many of the works in the sale were bought by Edwin Land, the company was eager to remind us that the Polaroid Corporation went through not one but two bankruptcies where creditors lost large sums of money and the artists who had work in the Polaroid collection were given the opportunity to come forward and claim their property.
Here is a statement from Sotheby’s:
Both of Polaroid’s bankruptcy proceedings in 2002 and 2009 were well-known and well-publicized events, with notices provided of the hearings as required by the Federal Bankruptcy code. Any parties interested in inquiring about individual works in the collection had multiple opportunities to raise questions. On August 27, 2009, the Federal Bankruptcy Court in St. Paul, MN approved the sale of approximately 1,200 photographs free and clear of all claims and encumbrances of any kind. That order was issued by the court after the court reviewed and specifically overruled the objections to the sale that were raised by a few photographers and others. No objections were raised regarding any of the approximately 1,200 photographs to be offered in the June 2010 auction.
Sotheby’s press release from the sale goes into a little more detail about how the photographs in the sale were acquired:
The Ansel Adams works in the Polaroid Collection can be divided into two major groups: classic Adams photographs that were made before the invention of the first Polaroid camera, among them many large murals that hung on the walls of Polaroid’s corporate offices; and Adams photographs made using Polaroid cameras or Polaroid film, including dozens of gem-like 4-by-5 Polaroids that show the photographer’s inventiveness when working on a small scale.
In 1956, in order to give context to the new Polaroid photography, Land charged Ansel Adams with the creation of a collection of other significant photographs of the time, but ones made by more conventional means. Armed with a small budget, Adams approached such photographers as his friends Dorothea Lange, Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston, Harry Callahan, and Margaret Bourke-White, acquiring a small group of classic images that came to be known within Polaroid as the “Library Collection.” As well as providing a marvelous backdrop for the new Polaroid technology, this small but lesser-known Library Collection provides a fascinating insight to Adams’s own taste in the photography of his day.