Polaroid Masterpieces: Highlights from The WestLicht Collection


Back in March the Vienna-based WestLicht Museum of Photography purchased the International Polaroid Collection from the Swiss Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, saving it from being sold off piecemeal with the rest of the bankrupt company’s holdings. Made up of 4,400 photos by 800 international artists, including such well-known names as Ansel Adams, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Andy Warhol, this massive body of work was shot primarily in the ’70s and ’80s using special custom made cameras and film that was not available on the market — all provided by Polaroid’s founder, Edwin Herbert Land. Beginning today, 350 of the images will go up on display in Austria; click through to view a selection of highlights from the collection, including our absolute favorite — ANDY SNEEZING.

Oliviero Toscani, Andy Warhol with camera, 1974. Polaroid Type 105. 3¼ x 4¼” © Oliviero Toscani/ WestLicht Collection.

Stephen Shore, Untitled, 1979. Polaroid Type 808. 8 x 10″ © Stephen Shore/ WestLicht Collection.

Patrick Nagatani, Cinema II, detail from the image: Alamogordo blues, 1986. Polaroid Spectra © Patrick Nagatani/ WestLicht Collection.

Mark Morrisroe, Nyph-o-maniac, 1983. Polaroid 35mm PolaChrome. Cibachrome print with paint, 10.4 x 15.7″. © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe/ WestLicht Collection.

Robert Heinecken, Untitled 1983. Polaroid Polacolor 20 x 24″. © Robert Heinecken/ WestLicht Collection.

Sahin Kaygun, Nude, 1983. Polaroid 600 HS. Hand-colored. © Burçak Kaygun/ WestLicht Collection.

Vicki Lee Ragan, The Princess and the Frogs, 1983. Polaroid Polacolor. 20 x 24″. © Vicki Lee Ragan/ WestLicht Collection.

Luigi Ghirri, AMSTERDAM, 1980. Polaroid Polacolor. 20 x 24”. © Eredi di Luigi Ghirri/ WestLicht Collection.

Joan Fontcuberta, Untitled, 1981. Polaroid Type 665. Gelatin silver print 10.4 x 10.4”. © Joan Fontcuberta / VBK Wien, 2011/ WestLicht Collection.

Auke Bergsma, Red stockings, 1980. Polaroid SX-70. © Auke Bergsma/ WestLicht Collection.

Bruce Charlesworth, Untitled, 1979. Polaroid SX-70. Hand-colored. © Bruce Charlesworth/ WestLicht Collection.

Andy Warhol, ANDY SNEEZING, 1978. Polaroid SX-70. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc. / VBK, Wien 2011/ WestLicht Collection.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Untitled (Diane), ca. 1974. Polaroid Type 55, 4 x 5″. © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation/ WestLicht Collection.

Paul Huf, Untitled, 1977. Polaroid Type 808. 8 x 10″. © Paul Huf/ VBK Wien, 2011/ WestLicht Collection.

Paul de Nooijer, Fancy Cake IV, 1977. Polaroid SX-70. Triptych. © Paul de Nooijer/ WestLicht Collection.

Helmut Newton, Untitled, 1976. Polaroid SX-70. © Helmut Newton Estate/ WestLicht Collection.

Ansel Adams, Window, Bear Valley, California, 1973. Polaroid Type 55. Gelatin silver print 9.8 x 13.3″. © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust/ WestLicht Collection.

Charles Eames, Untitled, 1975. Polaroid SX-70. © Eames Office, LLC/ WestLicht Collection.

Ulay, Untitled, 1969. Polaroid Type 665. 3¼ x 4¼”. © Frank Uwe Laysiepen /VBK, Wien 2011/ WestLicht Collection.