Vienna museum acquires 4,400 Polaroids, some by Warhol

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Vienna's Westlicht museum said Sunday it had acquired a collection of 4,400 Polaroid instant photographs by artists including Ansel Adams and Andy Warhol.

Peter Coeln, director of Westlicht, one of the world's best known photo galleries, said he had acquired the collection from the liquidators of the Polaroid company, which went bankrupt twice, in 2001 and 2008.

The collection, to go on show in June, was held in the archives of a museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, until it was seized along with other company assets in the bankrupcy proceeding.

"At the last minute I was able to save this collection from being broken up in an auction," Coeln told AFP.

A US collection of Polaroids was auctioned in 2010 by the London auction house Sotheby's.

About 1,400 of the pictures are large format (50 x 60 cm, 20 x 24 inches) and were taken with special Polaroid cameras which Czech photographer Jan Hnizdo made available to some 800 artists between 1970 and 1990.

The cameras were not on sale to the general public.

The Polaroid firm was founded at the end of the 1940s by US physicist Edwin Herbert Land, who died in 1991.

It is estimated that the total number of Polaroids worldwide over 60 years amounted to 300 million cameras.

The last Polaroid plant in operation is in the Dutch town of Enschede, owned by Austrian photographer Florian Kaps, who continues to produce instant Polaroid film under the "Impossible" label.

The exhibit, "Polaroid (Im)possible - The Westlicht Collection", will run from June 17 to August 21.,

© 2011 AFP

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