Nearby Café Home > Art & Photography > Photocritic International

Polaroid Collection: Update 10

Sometime between January 2003 and April 2009, somewhere between 6000-8000 works vanished from the Polaroid Collection. And no one seems to care — not the Minnesota Bankruptcy Court, which in August ’09 authorized the sale of the remainder of the collection at auction; not Sotheby’s, designated as the auction house of choice for the procedure; not the art/photo press, which to date has shown no interest in any aspect of the dissolution of this great collection; and not even the current possessors of the collection. . . . […]

Polaroid Collection: Update 8

Given that a single Steichen print went for close to $3 million just a few years back, and a single Gursky sold for over $3 million shortly thereafter, the notion that no one in what Maneker calls “the photography market” can afford to buy the Polaroid Collection is laughable on its face. If price is no object, then what is? This brings me to the logical conclusion that every potential buyer has discovered in examining the collection’s documentation that the bulk of it is contractually encumbered in ways that prohibit (or at least problematize) its sale, thus also making perilous its purchase as a whole. . . . […]

Polaroid Collection: Update 7

I don’t know if something’s rotten in the state of Denmark, but something’s definitely off in the state of Minnesota. Evidence accumulates that Polaroid has known all along that it never owned most of the work in its collection outright, yet the contents of that collection now move toward the auction block with the approval of the Minnesota Bankruptcy Court. . . . […]

Polaroid Collection: Update 2

Based on my admittedly layman’s reading of these documents, they constitute non-exclusive subsidiary-rights licenses based on the exchange of either money or goods for those rights, not transfers of ownership. What Polaroid acquired by that exchange appears voluntarily restricted on Polaroid’s part to “the right to republish my image(s)” and/or “the worldwide non-exclusive rights for exhibition and editorial (non-commercial) publication purposes of the following images in perpetuity.” Since these letters of agreement and release forms originated with the Polaroid Corporation, we can reasonably assume that their terms represent what Polaroid sought to obtain from the photographers with whom they chose to collaborate in this way. […]

Polaroid Collection: Urgent Photographer Alert

If you have work in either the U.S. or European Polaroid Collections, want to prevent the destruction of this world-famous archive via sale of its individual works at auction, and want to establish your claim to ownership of works you deposited in that collection on long-term loan, the time to act is now. […]