martes, 27 de noviembre de 2012


Eleven years years have elapsed since June 11th, 2001, when Westlicht Schauplatz für Fotografie opened in the Westbahnstrasse, 40 of Vienna (Austria), founded by its creator and driving force Peter Coeln through the private initiative of camera collectors and enthusiasts of top-notch photography, with the aim of enhancing the significance of photography both from a historical viewpoint and in terms of the relationship between photographic cameras and lenses and the art of photography.

In all this time, Westlicht has become a world class reference as a camera gallery, picture gallery and very high quality selling point of new and vintage cameras, lenses and all type of accessories, simultaneously managing to likewise turn into a benchmark venue of photographic equipment and images auctions with its two already worldwide famous events Westlicht Camera Auction and Westlicht Photo Auction.

Until now, there have been twenty two camera auctions and seven photo auctions.

This time, for the first time in history, the Westlicht Photo Auction (November 23rd, 2012 at 6 p.m) and the Westlich Camera Photo Auction (November 24th 2012 at 11 a.m) were held in two consecutive days, with remarkable attendance of audience arrived in Vienna from all over the world and a very high figure of bidders taking part in the auction through the different choices available: written, live, online, by phone, by fax, etc.

Both of the auctions were a great success, wisely managed by Nikolaus Schauerhuber (Auctioneer) helped by Jonny Glanz, Olivia Coeln and Mona Coeln, with a total volume of sales of 8,240,000 euros and 92% of the cameras, lenses and accessories lots sold regarding the 22th Westlicht Camera Auction, and what´s even more outstanding:

the remarkable success of the 7th Westlicht Auction of Photography, that has been one of the best and most important events of this kind ever held, and which has probably meant a new turning point in the history of Westlicht and will foster even more if feasible its prestige, recognition and influence.

This truly unforgettable photographic auction has encompassed pictures of such legendary photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Andre Kertész, Robert Capa, Cornell Capa, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, László Moholy Nagy, Lisl Steiner, Ansel Adams, Margaret Bourke White, Rene Burri, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Tina Modotti, Paul Wolff, Josef Koudelka, Hugo Henneberg, Lothar Rübelt, Brassai, Mark Riboud, Philippe Halsmann, Robert Mappelthrope, Herb Ritts, Arthur Rothstein, David Lachapelle, Inge Morath, Elliot Erwitt, Erich Salomon, Bill Brandt, Tina Modotti, Alberto Korda, Frank Horvat, Diane Arbus, Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz, Elfriede Mejchar, Jan Saudek, Dennis Stock, Eve Arnold, Cindy Sherman, Joel Meyerowitz, Josef Polleross, Mario Giacomelli, Leonard Freed, Phillip Jones, Wegee, Imogen Cunningham, Cecil Beaton, Horst P. Horst, Josef Sudek, Berenice Abbot, Yousuf Karsh, Shoji Ueda, Bruce Davidson and others.

And new peaks were reached with examples like the 31,200 euros attained by Hugo Hennenberg´s Landscape with Sheep (whose opening bid had been 18,000 euros), the mythical Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare made by Henri Cartier Bresson in Paris in 1932, whose hammer price was 12,600 euros (its starting bid had been 7,000), the Portrait of Lucille Ball made by Cindy Sherman  was bought for 7,800 euros (the starting bid had been 2,500 euros), and amazingly, the Untitled Towelhead, a further work by Cindy Sherman being the cover front of the auction, reached a final bid of 4,800 euros; Emma Bacher´s Klimt with Telescope had a hammer price of 14,400 (the starting price was 6,000 euros); Tina Modotti´s Landscape attained a hammer price of 19,200 euros (start price 12,000 euros); Horst P. Horst´s Still Life New York, Surreal Beauty Cream (start price of 4,000 euros) achieved a hammer price of 13.200; Josef Sudek´s Emmaus Church (starting price of 1,400 euros) reached 4,080 euros; Frank Horvat´s Fashion Study Cardin (start price of 1,200 euros) fetched 5,040 euros; Yoursuf Kars´s Three Men on a Mountain (start price of 2,500 euros) reached a hammer price of 5,760; René Burri´s Ernesto Ché Guevara (start price of 4,00 euros) reached a hammer price of 6,840 euros; Shoji Ueda´s Winter (starting price of 1,800 euros) reached 4,080; David Lachapelle´s Elton John (start price of 600 euros) reached 2,880 euros; Lisl Steiner´s Waiting for Fidel (start price of 800 euros) reached a price of 1,800 euros, etc.

And as if it were not enough, there was an added golden clasp:

the formidable NASA and Soviet Space Program Collection including 2,456 prints and 2144 transparencies of Pre Mercury Space Program, Mercury Space Program, Geminis Space Program, Apollo Space Program, Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, Skylab, etc, along with pictures of the Sputnik 2, Yuri Gagarin, Valentina Tereshkova, Soyuz 7, Soyuz 9, Salyut 1, Lunokhod 1 vehicle, etc, it all reaching a hammer price of 240,000 euros (starting price of 200,000 euros).

This massive assortment of pictures from NASA and USSR Space Programs, with difference the most complete ever seen and put on sale, contained two troves of the history of photography: 15 silver 20 x 30 cm and ten 20 x 30 cm vintage silver prints of pictures of sleep deprivation and endurance tests made by Cornell Capa for the U.S Air Force School of Aviation Medicine in late fifties, and the pictures of early designs of space attire also made during late 1950s.

The outstanding success of this 7th Westlicht Photo Auction deserves accolades, specially if we bear in mind that the 1st Westlicht Photo Auction was held on December 5, 2009, so it has only existed for three years, unlike the Westlicht Camera Auction, whose first edition took place on November 1, 2002, and has been the core of Westlicht till now along with the 20 years old Leica Shop and the great Vienesse Leica Gallery held inside Westlicht building and which is in thorough relation with the Leica Galleries in New York, Tokyo, Solms, etc.

It´s likewise something specially praiseworthy because Westlicht Photographica has established itself as the biggest auction house for cameras in the world for many years, attaining some amazing record breaking results like the staggering 2,160.000 euros hammer price for a Leica 0 series from 1923, and it was known well in advance (there had been a preview in Hong Kong on November 10, 2012) that the 22th Westlicht Camera Auction of November 24, 2012 would be a sensation (as it happened, with a selection of 650 cameras, lenses and accessories of the highest quality on sale and 3,6 million euros fetched by only three Leica cameras: David Douglas Duncan legendary Leica M3D, the gold plated Luxus Leica from 1929, the chief engineer of Leica Willi Stein´s first serial production M3, along with many other highly coveted cameras, resulting in a total volume of sales of 8,240, 000 euros).

Therefore, the 7th Westlicht Photo Auction just the previous day to the Camera Auction was a substantial challenge which was surpassed with high marks and became a landmark yielding excellent results.

To attain this great success and international recognition hasn´t obviously been by chance, but fruit of a strenuous steady effort of eleven years fulfilled by the Westlicht Photographica team, who have worked very hard until arriving at this moment: Peter Coeln (Director), Olivia Coeln, Mona Coeln, the architects Eichinger oder Knechtl, Verena-Kaspar Eisert (Director), Rebekka Reuter (Chief Curator), Martin Reinhardt (Spokeman of Auctions in Westlicht), Lisa Riebenbauer (Project Assistant), Eva Mühlbacher (Projects and Members), Katharina Buschenreiter (Guided Tours), Stefan Musil (Press), Carla Benzing (Press Assistant), Malina Schartmüller (Events), Marie Röbl (Photography Collection), Michaela Seiser (Photography Collection), Johannes Faber (founder and director of Galerie Johannes Faber in Vienna, art dealer and expert on classic photography), Anna Zimm (Photographica Auction, cataloguer and expert on daguerreotypes), Jo Geier (a great expert on Leica),  Franz Gibiser (an experienced and knowledgeable dealer of classic cameras and lenses, movie cameras and accessories), Wolf Nolting (cataloguer, expert on drawings and prints), Taiyoung Ha (Conservation), Nadine Weiner (Conservation Assistant), Martina Nagyova (Library & Bookshop), Katja Schindler (coauctioneer in some auctions), , Marco Pauer (Photographer), Michael Kollmann (Photographer), Sandro Zanzinger (Photographer), Peter Jakadofsky (Photographer, catalogue administrator and image editor), Dominik Trat (Photographer), Gerhard Krejci (Photographer), S.Z (Photographer) and many more, without forgetting the great panel of world class experts on Leica cameras, lenses and accessories, who have been instrumental throughout these eleven years in the development of Westlicht Photographica and Leica Shop: Dr Bahman Bawendi, James E. Cornwall, Zoltan Fejér, Peter Göllner, Larry Gubas, Mayumi Kobayashi, Uli Koch, Jim McKeown, Ottmar Michaely, Dr. Milos Mladek, Dr. Wolfgang Netolitzky, Lars Netopil, Bernd K. Otto, Dieter Scheiba, and others.

From scratch, Westlicht has also made a huge effort of searching for the most beautiful, valuable and rare pieces all over the world, both in the scope of cameras and photographs, implementing the necessary major investments to satisfy the great expectation of customers and bidders, managing to create a very important international network of dealers and collectors after many years of exceedingly hard work.

To cite only an example, the French collector Michel Auer had a decisive role in the gathering of the 250 Weegee´s vintage prints for the exhibition Weegee, Retrospective 1932-1960 held in Westlicht Gallery between December 16th and February 12th 2012, the most important of this photographer made in the world hitherto along with the extraordinary Unknown Weegee exhibition held at the ICP of New York between June 9 and August 27, 2006, which was organized by Cynthia Young (Assistant Curator of the International Center of Photography) and the also remarkable recent worldwide itinerant Weegee: Murder is My Business held between May 18-September 2, 2012 organized by Brian Wallis (ICP Chief Curator) which is currently displayed in the Photomuseum of Antwerp (Belgium) and includes environmental recreations of Weegee´s apartment and exhibitions.

And it´s also important to mention the world class photographers who have supported Vienna Westlicht Photographica from its very birth, usually attending to all kind of events, auctions and exhibitions held in its facilities: Lisl Steiner, Erich Lessing, David Douglas Duncan, Rene Burri, Elliot Erwitt, Franz Hubmann, Wim Wenders, Josef Polleross and many others, along with international authorities on photography like Anna Auer (European Photography for Photographic History), Johannes Faber, Uwe Schögl, Ulla Fischer-Westhauser, and personalities of the cultural sphere like Dr Danielle Spera and Kurt Palm (Jüdisches Museum Wien) and others, without forgetting the very important sponsorship provided by ACM Projectenwicklung GmbH (ruled by Andreas Kaufmann, CEO of Leica Camera AG and owner of the Leica Gallery in Salzburg), Wirtschafts Agentur Wien, Econgas, Der Standard, Film Archiv Austria, ORF Radio Osterreich 1, Austria Kultur Kontakt, Hunger auf Kunst & Kultur and Gartenbaukino, etc.

As already explained, the 7th Westlicht Camera Auction has been a milestone in the history of this sort of events, with frequent episodes of what is popularly known as ´bidding war´, always within the very strict working guidelines of Westlicht Photographica Auction and the good manners, education and knowledge of attendees, who sometimes fought tooth and nail for the most coveted images, under the experienced management of the auctioneer Niki Schauerhuber,

specially during the moments of peak excitement and competition, like for example the mythical Behind The Gare Saint-Lazare picture, taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris in 1932,

a 32,5 x 21,5 cm gelatin silver print which quickly began to increase its starting price of 7,000 euros, with a number of biddings

taking place and appearing on top right of the high quality projected image,

easily reaching the 8,000 euros, 9,000 euros and 10,000 euros, until fetching

the figure of 10,500 euros, 11,500 euros

and a final bidding of 12,600 euros

which was the hammer price in the middle of applause inside the Westlicht Photographica Auction big room.

The great picture ´Waiting for Fidel Castro´ of Henri Cartier-Bresson taken by Lisl Steiner in New York in 1961 became one of the most sensational moments of the event and brought about unutterable waves of enthusiasm and thrill among the great numbers of lovers of photography who arrived in Vienna to watch the auction live. To be able to see the 34,1 x 24 cm gelatin silver print projected on a large screen was a true relish. It fetched a hammer price of 1,800 euros, more than twice the original starting price of 800 euros.

It was among the most beloved photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the founders of Magnum Agency.

The legendary photographer Lisl Steiner on November 23, 2012 in Westlicht. Born in 1927 in Vienna (Austria), she features a experience of more than 60 years as a photojournalist and artist and has contributed with her images to reference class publications like Life, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, Keystone Press Agency, O´Cruzeiro and others, having also worked in a wide range of television productions for NBC and PBS.

She made some very important reportages in the history of photojournalism, as her coverage of John Fitzgerald Kennedy presidential campaign and funeral in 1963, the Martin Luther King Funeral in 1968 or the Chimney Sweeps of Vienna, and photographed such personalities as Louis Armstrong, Oscar Niemeyer, Pelé, Leonard Bernstein, Duke Ellington, Pau Casals, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Carmen Amaya, Friedrich Gulda, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Fidel Castro, Robert F. Kennedy, Nelson Rockefeller, Adlai Stevenson, Franz Beckenbauer, Miles Davis, B.B.King, Nat King Cole, Jorge Luis Borges, Rod Steiger, Nicola Walter and many others.

She is also considered one of the best photographers of classical music events ever, being a great authority in both directors and performers, and has photographed many rehearsals and live concerts conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham, Dmitri Mitropoulos, Leonard Bernstein, Erich Leinsdorf and others, and has probably been the most prominent photojournalist in history regarding this scope along with Ruth Orkin.

The strong competition and increasing bids constantly made by bidders from all over the world made the Westlicht Team work hard from scratch, striving after fulfilling with utter accuracy the biddings, specially the phone ones. In the image, we can see Rebekka Reuter (Chief Curator of Westlicht Schauplatz für Fotografie, on the right), and Peter Coeln (Director of Westlicht, on the left) paying attention to telephone bidders during a moment of the auction, while Jo Geier (a great expert on Leica, in the center of the image) and another member of Westlicht Team also keep tabs on the bids.

Shoji Ueda´s Winter (belonging to his series ´Children The Year Around´) made during sixties. This 15,7 x 23,5 cm vintage silver print fetched a hammer price of 4,080 euros, far superior to the starting price of 1,800. On the lower right area of the image is the auctioning table with Jonny Glanz, Nikolaus Schauerhuber (auctioneer) and Mona Coeln.

Cindy Sherman´s portrait Lucille Ball, made in 1975, at the beginning of its auction. This 26,1 x 20, 8 cm chromogenic print would reach a final hammer price of 7,800 euros.

A moment in the beginning of the bidding for Frank Horvat´s Fashion Study (Cardin), Paris, 1959, a 19,3 x 28,8 cm gelatin silver print which would reach a hammer price of 5,040 euros, almost a 500% more than its starting price tag.

Helmut Newton´s Model and Meccano Set. Paris, 1976, a 37,4 x 25,5 cm gelatin silver print which attained a winning bid of 4,800 euros.

Tina Modotti´s Landscape, México 1926. A 13,7 x 16,4 cm vintage silver print with a starting price of 12,000 euros which would attain a hammer price of 19,200. To watch projected on a large screen this image (and many others making up this auction) oozing the typical and very nice aesthetics of image inherent to the old chemical monochrome emulsions featuring apparent grain and great quantities of silver was a really unique experience.

Ansel Adam´s Sequoia Roots, Yosemite National Park, California. 1950, a 23,8 x 19 cm gelatin silver print made in 1998 by Alan Ross from Ansel Adam´s original negative. It reached a hammer price of 840 euros (the starting starting price had been 500 euros).

Professor Anna Auer, one of the greatest experts on History of Photography in the world and a pioneer in the creation of photo galleries with her gallery Die Brücke in Vienna (visited by Ernst Haas every time he went to Austria), that was strongly inspired by the legendary Camera magazine and the keynotes set forth by Helmut Gernsheim.

Already in 1972 and 1973, she showed in Austria exhibitions of American photographers like Edward Weston, Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, Ralph Gibson, Duane Michals, Dick Arentz, Andrew Davidhazy, Minor White, Les Krims, Susan Barron, E.S.Curtis and Judy Dater, together with other significant exhibitions like Übersee, displayed in the Vienna Kunsthalle in 1998, fruit of a previous research on the Austrian photography in the emigration, and Die Materie die wir nicht sehen Franco Fontana´s solo exhibition in 1972.

A living encyclopedia of photography with tremendous knowledge and experience, she was also co-editor of Photoresearcher, the top-notch quality journal of the European Society for the History of Photography.

She attended personally to the 7th Westlicht Photo Auction and is currently a member of the International Advisory Board of the ESHPh, of which she was President between 2004-2008.

She is among many other subjects a great authority on Ansel Adams, and on April 23, 2007, she imparted in Westlicht a historical lecture during the Press Preview of the Ansel Adams Classic Images Exhibition which took place between April 24th and June 3rd of 2007 in cooperation with the Ansel Adams Trust and Anne Adams Helms.

On the other hand, Anna Auer is author of the most in-depth existing research on the great Austrian portraiture photographer Ferdinand Schmutzer, mainly delving into his remarkable technical expertise using lighting, shades, perspective and contrast geared to his gift to capture the personality of the photographed persons in his images, which was the core of the lecture given on November 12, 2002 in Maastricht during the ESHPh Symposium, and the exhibition Ferdinand Schmutzer 1870-1928, shown in Westlicht Gallery between November 29, 2001 and February 24, 2002.

René Burri´s Ernesto Che Guevara. Havana, 1933. A 16,7 x 27,5 cm gelatin silver print made in 1984, which had a starting price of 4,000 euros

and quickly achieved bids over 5,000 and 6,000 euros, getting a hammer price of 6,840 euros.

Helmut Newton´s Woman with Nikon Camera 1960s in the beginning of its bidding. The lady appears holding in his right hand a Nikon SP, along with the Leica M3 the best 35 mm rangefinder camera ever made. This 25,8 x 34,2 cm gelatin silver print fetched a hammer price of 3,840 euros (starting price of 1,000 euros).

Horst P. Horst´s Still Life New York Surreal Beauty Cream. 1941 in the beginning of its bidding. This impressive 18,8 x 18, 6 cm platinum palladium print became one of the most craved and disputed photographs, in the midst of full-fledged bidding battle, until it reached a hammer price of 13,200 euros.

Yousuf Karsh´s Three Men on a Mountain (Jacques Lipchitz, Henry Moore, Marino Marini). Ottawa, August 3, 1970. This 18 x 25, 3 cm gelatin silver print had a starting price of 2,500 euros and attained a hammer price of 5,760 euros. The fabulous mastery of the light and loads of detail in this picture made by the studio magician with a large format 8 x 10 (contact of 20 x 25 cm) Calumet bellows camera with 14" (356 mm) f/6.3 Commercial Ektar coated lens and orthochromatic b & w film projected on the large screen of Westlicht Photographic Auction large room was another of the highlights of the day.

To have masterpieces of photography like these, made from the original negative, as they were taken by the photographer when he/she was looking through the viewfinder of his/her camera, must be a real visual treat, fostered by the possession of a highly valuable piece of history.

It was something that until recently was mostly reserved to museums and institutions, because of the high costs of preservation of the pictures, but the arrival of new breakthrough fixtures of indoor lighting based on LED technologies and the current availability of customized installations for private houses embodied by highly experienced firms like Simon Indoor Lighting, is starting to enable collectors, investors and enthusiasts of photography pining for having these works of art at home to have a workable solution, since LED contrivances don´t irradiate heat and don´t emit UV or IR rays, so on not deteriorating tonal ranges of vintage monochrom prints, colours or textures, pictures are flawlessly protected and preserved throughout many decades, with the added bonus of a suggestive and exceedingly stable illumination of architectural spaces enhanced by an unaltered light over the passage of time and a very low energetic consumption.

Raymond Fabre´s Pablo Picasso portrait. Perpignan 1954 in the beginning of its bidding. This gorgeous 39,8 x 29,8 cm vintage silver print fetched a hammer price of 3,840 euros (the starting price was 2,000 euros).

Robert Capa´s Watching an air-to-air encounter. Second Sino-Japanese War. Hankou, China. April 29th, 1938 in the beginning of its biddings. The woman in the front row under the projected picture is the legendary photographer Lisl Steiner, great friend of Julia Friedmann, Cornell Capa and Edith Capa.

She came to Vienna from New York to attend the event and was another of the illustrious visitors of this historical 7th Westlicht Photo Auction.

The 15,7 x 23,5 cm gelatin silver print made during seventies reached soon the figure of 1,900 euros, subsequently surpassing the 2,000 euros and getting a hammer price of 2,280 euros.

Phillip Halsman´s Salvador Dalí in Port Lligat (Spain). 1959. This 32,9 x 25,4 cm gelatin silver print began with a starting price of 400 euros, and a winning bid of 1,200 euros finally prevailed.

Josef Polleross´s World Trade Center, New York. 1984. This 22,6 x 34,3 cm vintage silver print had a starting price of 600 euros and reached a hammer price of 900 euros.

Dr. Paul Wolff´s Pair Skating at the Olympic Park Arena in Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936, belonging to a series of six 18 x 24 cm vintage silver prints which began with a starting price of 2,500 euros and fetched a hammer price of 6.600 euros.

André Kertész´s Washington Square. September 25th, 1969. This 24,2 x 20,30 vintage print began with a starting price of 2,800 euros and achieved a hammer price of 3,840 euros.

Some loyal attendees to Westlicht Photo Auctions are developing an outstanding penchant for the works of great photographers.

© Text and Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza. LHSA