Leica has announced that the theme of the forthcoming Leitz Photographica Auction 42 to be held on the 9th and 10th of June this year will be iconic images from some celebrated Leica-using pros, along with cameras they owned and loved.
Featured photographers will include Terry O’Neill, best known for his celebrity portraiture, and the documentary photographer John Bulmer, whose work will be available to buy at the auction. These include one of O’Neill’s most famous pictures of his then wife, the actress Faye Dunaway, relaxing by an LA hotel pool the morning after receiving an Oscar for her performance in the movie Network.
John Bulmer, meanwhile, built a solid reputation shooting around his childhood home in the industrial north of England for The Sunday Times magazine. Photographs such as “Manchester” or “Miners in Waldridge” – both part of the photography auction ‘Modern Times,’ held on the opening day of the wider auction – established Bulmer’s reputation as a humanistic observer with an unerring eye for detail. His black paint Leica M3 will also be up for sale, along with a Summicron 2/50mm lens.
Another big auction highlight is the black paint Leica M2 belonging to the hugely influential US documentary photographer, Walker Evans (1903-1975), who made history for his work during the great depression. Walker bought the camera in 1962 and shot with it for over 10 years before switching from 35mm film to a larger format.
The Leitz Photographica Auction holds an auction of vintage cameras and photographs twice a year. “Cameras from famous previous owners are extremely popular,” notes Alexander Sedlak, Managing Director of Leica Camera Classics, under whose umbrella the auction house operates.
Chances are you will need deep pockets to get your hands on the major auction highlights, so warn your bank manager – here’s our guide to the most expensive cameras ever sold at auction. Also check out our guides to portrait photography along with the best cameras for portrait photography and our full guide to street photography
The theme of the 42nd Leitz Photographica Auction focuses on photographs from iconic photographers and the cameras they used. The upcoming edition of the world-renowned auction series will take place in Wetzlar, Germany, on the 9th and 10th of June 2023 and will feature an exquisite collection of photographs and cameras, with examples from John Bulmer, Walker Evans and Terry O’Neill.
With their black paint Leica cameras, Bulmer and Evans documented some of the most important chapters in the history of the 20th century, whereas O’Neill’s celebrated film star portraits, shedding light on the mystery of Hollywood. Collectors with a taste for the fine arts will also find interest in the Leica MP “Planet Earth” engraved by British designer and artist, “King Nerd”.
The Leitz Photographica Auction holds its eponymous auction of vintage cameras and photographs twice a year. With vintage cameras, buyers are particularly interested not only in the craftsmanship of the equipment but also in its historical relevance. “Cameras from famous previous owners are extremely popular. This auction year, we are focusing on cameras that belonged to celebrated photographers”, comments Alexander Sedlak, Managing Director of Leica Camera Classics, under whose umbrella the auction house operates.
Historic devices from a wide range of manufacturers will be auctioned, but the focus is on Leica. “Picturing the world with a Leica has its own appeal. But this time we also have a camera in the auction on which the world has been depicted”, explains Sedlak. British artist Johnny Dowell aka “King Nerd”, who specialises in bespoke engravings, embellished a Leica MP with the image of planet Earth (below). The camera will be auctioned on 10th June, with the relationship between art and technology also being a theme of the two-day auction.
Colour pioneer of reportage photography
John Bulmer (born 1938) enriched the elegiac black and white of photojournalism with colour. His work for the British Sunday Times Magazine, the world’s first colour supplement to a national newspaper, opened the door to a new era of reportage photography. Bulmer was often inspired by the home of his childhood, the industrial north of England. Photographs such as “Manchester” or “Miners in Waldridge” – both part of the photography auction “Modern Times”, held on the opening day of Leitz Photographica Auction 42 – established Bulmer’s reputation as a humanistic observer with an unerring eye for detail.
Alongside the photographs, a Leica M3 black paint by the British photographer is also up for sale. “Leica cameras in black paint have enjoyed enormous popularity among collectors of historical cameras for some years now. Considering the famous previous owner as well, the M3 is certainly a highlight of the upcoming Leitz Photographica,” comments Alexander Sedlak. The camera will be auctioned with a Summicron 2/50mm lens – also in black paint. Furthermore, Bulmer’s illustrated book “The North” is included in the lot.
“Readymade” between documentary and art photography
Another highlight of the auction is a Leica M2 black paint by Walker Evans (1903-1975), who purchased the camera in 1962 and shot with it for over ten years before switching from 35mm film to a larger format. Evans is considered one of the greatest American photographers in history and his works have been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the George Eastman Museum, the Centre Pompidou and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, to name but a few.
The photograph “Penny Pictures Display” was shown at MoMA twice – In a solo exhibition in 1938 and a retrospective in 1971. “It is one of Walker Evans’ most famous works. On a trip through the Southern States of the US, Evans photographed the window display of a photo studio in Savannah. The ‘readymade’ and accidental photo collage is a very modern and casual image. It questions the distinction between documentary and art photography.
Throughout his life, Evans understood the term ‘documentary’ only as a makeshift metaphor for his particular style of artistic photography,” explains Anna Zimm, photography expert at Leica Camera Classics. Evans’ approach was considered revolutionary at the time and influenced later generations of photographers such as Robert Frank and Harry Callahan, but also Pop Art painters and contemporaries such as Bernd and Hilla Becher and Thomas Ruff. The print of “Penny Pictures Display” in the auction is a silver gelatin print from the 1970s. It originally came from the collection of Harry Lunn, who worked with Evans from 1974 onwards.
Audrey Hepburn and Faye Dunaway: Hollywood stars through the lens
In 1977, Faye Dunaway won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Sidney Lumet’s “Network”. After a marathon of congratulations and partying, Dunaway had gone to bed at 3am, but came down to the pool of the Beverly Hills Hotel at 6:30am for a photo session. “The shot, taken by Terry O’Neill, shows the actress at the peak of her career while revealing the true nature of behind-the-scenes showbiz fame. Only a single, short night separates a career-high from the day job, a scene perfused with slight melancholy is created. O’Neill named the image ‘The Morning After’ – and called it the best Oscar photo ever taken,” says Caroline Guschelbauer, who is responsible for “Modern Times” together with Anna Zimm, thus describing another highlight of the photography auction.
Terry O’Neill (1938-2019) came from London to Los Angeles in the 1970s and soon made a name for himself as the stars’ portrait photographer. A year before his death, the British-born photographer collaborated with Leica UK to release 35 “Special Edition Sets” consisting of a Leica MP film camera, a Summilux 50mm f1.4 lens and a previously unpublished shot of Audrey Hepburn. While O’Neill’s legendary photograph of Faye Dunaway will be auctioned as part of “Modern Times”, one of these 35 sets will be part of the camera auction (10th June) of Leitz Photographica Auction 42.
Live on site, in written form, online or by telephone
Leitz Photographica Auction 42 will take place over two days at Leitz Park in Wetzlar. On 9th June, the “Modern Times” photography auction takes place and on 10th June, the auction of historical cameras will follow. Bids can be submitted in advance – online, in written form or by telephone. Live bidding during the auction is possible on site or at www.leitz-auction.com and www.liveauctioneers.com
Leitz Photographica Auction will return to Vienna in November 2023.