martes, 11 de diciembre de 2012

LA PRIMERA LEICA DE ROBERT CAPA VENDIDA DURANTE LA HISTÓRICA 22ª SUBASTA WESTLICHT CAMERA AUCTION

Texto y Fotos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza


Berlín, mediados de julio de 1932. Los rollos de película de 35 mm expuestos por Harald Lechenperg durante la boda del futuro maharaja de Patna en el Punjab (India) acaban de llegar a la sede de la Agencia Dephot (Deutscher Photodienst).

Un joven ayudante de laboratorio de 18 años de edad, Endre Ernö Friedmann, conocido con el sobrenombre de Bandi, y que también ejerce funciones como chico de los recados, ve las hojas de contactos 24 x 36 mm del mencionado reportaje tras ser revelados los negativos en el cuarto oscuro. Es un momento de inflexión en su vida. Un enorme entusiasmo invade todo su ser, y rompiendo todos los protocolos, agarra las hojas de contactos y se dirige con ellas rápidamente al despacho de Simon Guttman, director de la Agencia Dephot, irrumpiendo abruptamente, mostrándole las pequeñas imágenes de 24 x 36 mm y gritándole que son las mejores fotos que ha visto jamás.

Guttmann, hombre de enorme experiencia en la visualización y selección de imágenes (fundador de la Agencia Dephot en 1928 junto con Alfred Marx) y uno de los mejores editores gráficos de la historia junto con Edward K. Thompson, John G. Morris, Jimmy Fox, Howard Chapnick, Wilbur E. Garrett, Robert Pledge, Monica Cipnic, David Friend, Jay Colton, Jeffrey D. Smith y otros, es en esos momentos el buque insignia del fotoperiodismo alemán, referente mundial incuestionable a principios de los años treinta, con publicaciones tan señeras como Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, Muncher Illustrierte Presse, Die Dame, Kölnische Illustrierte, etc.

Ha trabajado estrechamente con Muncher Illustrierte Presse y otras revistas ilustradas (mientras que la Agencia Weltrundschau, dirigida por Rudolph Birnbach, vendía sus fotos sobre todo a Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, Republican Illustrated y A.I.Z), así como con fotoperiodistas de gran talla como Andre Kertész, E.P. Hahn, Felix H. Mann, Kurt Hutton, Umbo, Walter Bosshard, Harald Lechenperg, Balkin, Wolfgang Weber, Comeriner, Seldow, Tim Gidal, Willy Rugge, Martin Muncaksi y otros.

La insólita situación y el atrevimiento inconsciente de Bandi llaman poderosamente la atención de Guttmann, que conoce profundamente a Lechenperg (el gran editor húngaro sabía exactamente cuál era el fotógrafo más apropiado para cada misión) e intuye que efectivamente las fotos realizadas en Punjab han de ser soberbias (de hecho, el reportaje sería publicado en el número de Die Dame del 15 de agosto de 1932).

Se da cuenta de la enorme pasión que ha inflamado el corazón del jovencísimo Bandi, y con su gran olfato cazatalentos, tras hablar de nuevo con él varias veces durante las semanas siguientes en el Romanisches Café de la Kurfürstendamm, decide ponerle a prueba como fotógrafo, y le entrega


la Leica II (Model D) número 90023 con objetivo Leitz Elmar 50 mm f/3.5, con la que entre finales de agosto y mediados de noviembre de 1932 le encarga realizar varios pequeños trabajos fotográficos no firmados en el área de Berlín (sobre todo imágenes de personas caminando a través de calles y competiciones deportivas) para que se familiarice con el uso de la pequeña cámara en contextos de acción, además de cerciorarse de su valía, hasta que durante la última semana de Noviembre de 1932 le encarga su primer reportaje importante y firmado como fotógrafo profesional: que vaya a Copenhague para hacer fotos a León Trostsky durante una conferencia que éste ha de pronunciar el 27 de Noviembre de 1932 en el Palacio de Deportes de dicha ciudad ante varios miles de estudiantes universitarios daneses.

Endre Ernö Friedmann cumple con éxito la misión, hace muy buenas fotos y el primer reportaje fotoperiodístico de su vida es publicado dos semanas después en página completa por la revista alemana Der Welt Spiegel en su número del 11 de Diciembre de 1932, apareciendo en su zona inferior derecha el crédito Aufnahmen Friedmann Degephot.

© Lisl Steiner

1961. Veintinueve años después.

Julia Friedmann, acude por última vez al cementerio de Amawalk (Nueva York) para rezar en la tumba de Robert Capa, su hijo.

Le acompaña una mujer a la que ha conocido hace dos años, que estuvo a punto de casarse con un amigo de su hijo Cornell Capa y se ha convertido en una gran amiga.

Julianna Henrietta Berkovits, nacida en 1888 en Nagy Kapos (Rutenia), motor impulsor de la familia Friedmann en Budapest y quien sacó adelante a sus hijos Laszlo Friedmann, Endre Friedmann y Kornél Friedmann durante los años veinte a base de ímprobo esfuerzo y sacrificio de años (trabajando con frecuencia en agotadoras jornadas desde el amanecer hasta la medianoche en el salón de costura de la familia ubicado en el barrio Belvaros de la capital húngara, mientras su marido Dezsö Friedmann gastaba parte del patrimonio familar jugando a las cartas), tiene 73 años.

Pese al gran cariño y cuidados de Cornell Capa, su esposa Edie Capa y otras personas que se volcaron con ella, la muerte de Robert la destrozó.

Desde entonces, ha visitado distintos países como Japón e Italia, invitada para hablar de su hijo Bob, pero no ha podido superar su ausencia y su recuerdo, que aflora en su mente cada segundo que pasa y ha impregnado su vida de profundísima tristeza desde que asistió a su entierro el 11 de Junio de 1954 en este mismo lugar en el que se halla ahora con su amiga.

Julia Friedmann está muy envejecida y cansada. La gran fortaleza y resistencia física que siempre tuvo se han deteriorado notablemente, y la entrañable Mother Goose se halla prácticamente sin energía para seguir viviendo.

Han pasado siete años desde que perdió a Bob, su hijo predilecto, muerto al pisar una mina mientras hacía fotografías durante la Guerra de Indochina en la zona de Thai Binh (Vietnam) el 25 de mayo de 1954. Su hijo mayor Laszlo murió en 1935 a causa de fiebre reumática y su marido Dezsö Friedmann falleció en 1939.

Sólo ha sobrevivido Cornell, su hijo más joven (un gran fotógrafo, que sacrificará su carrera para dedicarse a luchar al máximo por mantener vivo el recuerdo del legado fotográfico de su hermano Robert, fundando en 1974 el ICP de Nueva York con ayuda de Edie Capa (que tenía gran capacidad discernidora y memoria visual con las imágenes y se había convertido en una muy buena editora de fotografías trabajando a partir de las hojas de contactos, además de poseer un notable talento organizador), la secretaria de Cornell Capa Anna Winand - ambas habían trabajado intensivamente desde varios años antes de 1974 dentro de la oficina de Cornell Capa en Manhattan, ubicada en Lower Fifth Avenue, clasificando y ordenando el enorme archivo fotográfico de Robert Capa- y Micha Bar-Am.

Julia Friedmann, la mujer todo pasión y enorme capacidad de trabajo, que cocinó a destajo - sobre todo Krautfleckerln al estilo Káposztás tészta húngaro - desde 1937 en el brownstone de West-eighty ninth Street de Nueva York, donde vivía con Cornell Capa (que trabajaba como printista en el laboratorio de la Agencia Pix -fundada en 1936 por Leon Daniel, Celia Kutschuk, Alfred Eisenstaedt y George Karger en Manhattan- y se convertiría rápidamente en un experto de cuarto oscuro de la revista Life, y después de trabajar en la unidad de inteligencia fotográfica de la Fuerza Aérea de Estados Unidos durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, se convirtió en fotógrafo de Life en 1946)  y su esposa Edie, preparando comidas no sólo para ellos sino también para muchos fotógrafos en sus albores amigos de la familia Friedmann como Ralph Morse (que iba a ver a Cornell Capa, Edie Capa y Mother Goose después de sus clases de fotografía en el City College de Nueva York), Eileen Darby (que al igual que Cornell Capa trabajaba en el laboratorio de la Agencia Pix y posteriormente fundó su propia Agencia Graphic House en 1941), Yale Joel, Phil Schultz y otros (entre ellos Ruth Orkin, desde 1943), percibe la proximidad de la muerte y se sienta junto a la tumba de su hijo Robert Capa. Lo hace de tal manera que no pueda ver la inscripción con el nombre de su hijo en la lápida, ya que no puede aguantar el dolor. Absorta en sus pensamientos, tiene la mirada perdida, y es en este momento cuando la mujer que le ha acompañado hasta el cementerio de Amawalk, le hace su última fotografía.

Pocos segundos después, tiene lugar una durísima y desgarradora escena cuando de repente la madre de Robert Capa estalla en lágrimas, y se arroja sobre la tumba de su hijo gritando con enorme rabia y dolor: ¡ Bob, Bob, ¿Por qué estás aquí? !

Al día siguiente, dos meses antes de su fallecimiento, Julianna Henrietta Berkovits, le regala a su amiga la primera cámara Leica que utilizó su hijo Robert Capa: la Leica II (Model D) número 90023 con la que el famoso fotógrafo de guerra hizo el primer reportaje de su vida, obteniendo las fotos de León Trotsky durante la conferencia que éste pronunció en Copenhague en 1932 y que Julia Capa había conservado desde la muerte de Bob en 1954.

Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

LA PRIMERA LEICA USADA POR ROBERT CAPA SUBASTADA EN WESTLICHT PHOTOGRAPHICA AUCTION
Pocas semanas antes de su 22ª Subasta de Cámaras a celebrar el 24 de Noviembre de 2012 en su sede de Viena, Westlicht anuncia que la primera cámara Leica utilizada por Robert Capa formará parte de los lotes a la venta.

Ello provoca una notable conmoción, ya que se sabía que el famoso fotoperiodista húngaro había usado una Leica III cromada con objetivo Leitz Summar 5 cm f/2 no revestido diseñado por Max Berek durante la Guerra Civil Española (ahora sabemos que utilizó también la Leica II D número 90023 con objetivo Elmar 50 mm f/2) hasta finales de Mayo de 1937 y una Contax II con objetivo Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 5 cm f/2 diseñado por Ludwig Bertele a partir de dicha fecha, pero apenas existía información sobre las cámaras que había utilizado antes de 1935 (año en el que adquirió una segunda cámara más moderna, la Leica III, ya que era muy importante para él la posibilidad de usar tanto su nuevo dial de velocidades lentas 1/20 seg, 1/15 seg, 1/10 seg, 1/8 seg, 1/4 seg, 1/2 seg, y 1 seg - por entonces las películas de 35 mm tenían muy baja sensibilidad- ubicado en la zona delantera de la cámara, cerca del objetivo -y del que carecía la Leica II Model D-, tras girar el dial de altas velocidades situado en el área superior de la cámara hacia la también nueva marca de velocidad 20-1 como el Summar 5 cm f/2 mucho más luminoso que el Elmar 5 cm f/3.5) , y sobre todo, se desconocía totalmente el hecho de que Julia Friedmann hubiera entregado en 1961, poco antes de morir, a una persona de su plena confianza la primera cámara Leica utilizada por su hijo Bob en 1932.

51 años después, dicha persona ha llegado a Viena procedente de Nueva York y se halla ya en la sala de subastas de Westlicht Photographica Auction, donde va a asistir a las pujas por la mencionada cámara Leica II (Model D) número 90023 que ha guardado celosamente durante más de medio siglo y que ha decidido poner a la venta para que esté en manos de un coleccionista o inversor en condiciones de preservarla en el futuro.

Lisl Steiner muestra la página completa del número de la revista ilustrada alemana Der Welt Spiegel del 11 de Diciembre de 1932 con el primer reportaje como fotoperiodista profesional realizado por Endre Ernö Friedmann a León Trotsky en Copenhague el 27 de Noviembre de dicho año con la cámara Leica II (Model D) número 90023 con objetivo Leitz Elmar 50 mm f/3.5 subastada en la 22ª Westlicht Camera Auction celebrada en Viena el 24 de Noviembre de 2012.

Esta mujer es Lisl Steiner, una de las mejores fotógrafas de la historia, gran amiga de Julia Friedmann, Cornell Capa, su mujer Edith Schwartz, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Pau Casals, Leonard Bernstein, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Erich Leinsdorf, Louis Armstrong, Pablo Neruda, Pelé, Oscar Niemeyer, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, B.B. King, Friedrich Gulda, Martin Luther King, Nat King Cole, Jorge Luis Borges, Rod Steiger, Dmitri Mitropoulos, Sir Thomas Beecham y muchas otras personalidades de relieve internacional a quienes Lisl ha captado con sus Leicas por todo el mundo durante su trayectoria de más de sesenta años como fotógrafa, y cuyas fotografías fueron publicadas en Life, Newsweek, The New York Times, Keystone Press Agency, O Cruzeiro, y otros medios de talla internacional, habiendo aparecido también una selección de sus mejores porfolios en el número 2/2000 de la legendaria revista Leica World, y ha trabajado asimismo en una amplia gama de producciones de TV de la NBC y la PBS.

Lisl Steiner sujeta con ambas manos dos contactos ampliados del reportaje que Endre Ernö Friedmann realizó a León Trotsky en Copenhague en 1932, utilizando la cámara Leica II (Model D) número 90023 con objetivo Leitz Elmar 50 mm f/3.5 y película cinematográfica de blanco y negro cargada a granel Kodak Panchromatic Nitrate de 35 mm sensibilidad Weston 32, equivalente a aproximadamente 40 ISO.

Dos años después de serle entregada la cámara por la madre de Robert Capa, cubrió con Cornell Capa la campaña presidencial de John Fitzgerald Kennedy hasta el mismo día de su asesinato en Dallas el 22 de Noviembre de 1963.

El precio inicial de la cámara con su objetivo Leitz Elmar 50 mm f/3.5 era de 8.000 euros,

Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

debido a que la Leica II (Model D) se fabricó en grandes cantidades: 21.970 unidades durante 1932 (primer año de fabricación, al que pertenece la cámara entregada por Julia Friedmann a Lisl Steiner en 1961), con una produccción total de 36.936 unidades lacadas en negro y 15.573 cromadas construidas entre 1932 y 1948.

Pese a ello, los momentos de puja por la primera Leica de Capa dentro de la sala de subastas de Westlicht fueron de una emoción indescriptible, no exenta de tensión, con una muy fuerte ´bidding battle´ que rápidamente hizo subir la cotización, hasta alcanzar la cota de los 50.000 euros, que fue ampliamente rebasada al llegarse a los 65.000 euros,

Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

tras lo cual una puja de 78.000 euros, muy por encima del precio de salida, resultó ganadora, lo cual constituyó un gran éxito y tiene un mérito enorme, al tratarse de un modelo de cámara producida en tan grandes cantidades, aunque no es menos cierto que las personas que participaron en la puja eran conscientes de que esta cámara protagonizó episodios muy relevantes de la historia del fotoperiodismo en manos de uno de sus más eximios representantes.


De hecho, esta cámara realizó reportajes fotográficos tales como la anteriormente mencionada cobertura del discurso de León Trotsky en Copenhague en 1932; el reportaje de la exhibición de dibujos de Heinrich Zille en Berlín en Febrero de 1932 que fue publicado en Der Welt Spiegel del 12 de Marzo de 1933; el reportaje sobre la región del Sarre realizado durante la última semana de Septiembre de 1934 y publicado en dos capítulos en los números de la revista Vu del 7 y 21 de Noviembre de 1934, con muy moderna distribución de texto e imágenes para la época; las fotografías de los preparativos antes del intento de batir el récord mundial de altitud en aeronave por parte del coronel Emilio Herrera, publicado en el número de Vu del 5 de Junio de 1935; la Semana Santa Sevillana, realizado en 1935 y publicado en el número de Voilà del 4 de Abril de 1936; los votantes franceses en el edificio municipal de Saint Dennis (Francia) el día de las elecciones el 3 de Mayo de 1936; los trabajadores de la fábrica Renault de Boulogne-Billancourt en huelga a finales de Mayo de 1936; los trabajadores en huelga con una cesta llena de salchichas en Saint-Ouen a principios de Junio de 1936; los brokers bursátiles bajo el porche de la Bolsa de París en Mayo de 1936; las pruebas a actores en el cine Crochet de París en Mayo de 1936; el reportaje hecho en la última semana de Junio de 1936 durante la sesión especial de la Sociedad de Naciones en Ginebra y publicado en el número de Vu del 8 de Julio de 1936; el reportaje del Encuentro Internacional para la Paz celebrado en Verdún (Francia) el 12 de Julio de 1936, en conmemoración del vigésimo aniversario de la batalla; los bailes populares en las calles de París durante la celebración de la Fiesta de la Toma de la Bastilla el 14 de Julio de 1936


y muchos famosos e históricos reportajes realizados por Robert Capa durante la Guerra Civil Española (en la que utilizó dos cámaras, la Leica II (Model D) número 90023 con objetivo Elmar 5 cm f/3.5 vendida en Westlicht y una Leica III Model F con objetivo Summar 5 cm f/2) tales como los bombardeos de Madrid (Regards, 10 de Diciembre de 1936); muchas de las fotografías tomadas en Barcelona y sus alrededores en Agosto de 1936 y en el Frente de Aragón (Santa Eulalia, Leciñena, etc) en Agosto de 1936 y publicadas en el número de Regards del 10 de Septiembre de 1936; un porcentaje de las fotografías hechas en la Puerta del Sol de Madrid a finales de Agosto de 1936; algunas de las fotografías hechas en Cerro Muriano y Espejo (Córdoba) a principios de Septiembre de 1936 y publicadas en el número de Vu del 23 de Septiembre de 1936 y en el de Regards del 24 de Septiembre de dicho año); muchas de las fotografías hechas en la Ciudad Universitaria de Madrid y la Casa de Campo durante Noviembre-Diciembre de 1936 (publicadas en los números de Regards del 10, 17,  24 y 31 de Diciembre de 1936 así como en el número de Life del 28 de Diciembre de dicho año) y Febrero de 1937 (publicadas en Ce Soir 11 de Marzo de 1937, Ce Soir 31 de Marzo de 1937, Ce Soir 3 de Mayo de 1937, el New York Times del 4 de Abril de 1937 y Life del 26 de Abril de 1937); algunas de las fotografías tomadas durante la huida de refugiados de Málaga que marcharon a pie a través de la carretera costera en dirección hacia Almería, huyendo del avance de las tropas franquistas; la Batalla de Monte Sollube en la zona de Bilbao durante la segunda semana de Mayo de 1937 (publicada en el número de Regards del 20 de Mayo de 1937 y Ce Soir 14 y 15 de mayo de 1937); la ciudad de Bilbao siendo bombardeada por los aviones franquistas y su población corriendo a través de las calles o contemplando los combates aéreos a principios de Mayo de 1937 (fotografías publicadas en Ce Soir 17 de mayo de 1937, Het Leven del 19 de Junio de 1937) y otros muchos.

La Leica II (Model D) número 90023 tiene en la parte trasera la pequeña tapa circular redonda típica de las Leicas II más antiguas. Originalmente, fue utilizada con la Leica 1 Model A (presentada el año 1925), la Compur Leica (presentada el año 1926) y la Leica 1 Model C Versión Primera (presentada en 1930), todas las cuales carecían de montura standard Leica de rosca para acoplar ópticas intercambiables, de tal manera que un experto operario de Leitz Wetzlar pudiera fijar el back focus correcto a través de un orificio ubicado en la placa de presión de la película de 35 mm y que permitía el uso de un destornillador desde dentro de la cámara, hasta 1931, año en que la distancia back focus fue estandarizada.

Existen abundantes indicios que indican que un elevado porcentaje de las Leicas II (Model D) más antiguas construidas durante 1932 fueron fabricadas por Leitz Wetzlar utilizando cuerpos de cámara remanentes dotados con la pequeña tapa circular redonda en su zona trasera.

El Leitz Elmar 50 mm f/3.5 no revestido e intercambiable número 133594 acoplado a la Leica II (Model D) número 90023 y fabricado durante 1932 es históricamente valioso e interesante, ya que fue uno de los primeros dotados con infinity lock a las 7. 

Los primeros objetivos Leitz Elmar 5 cm f/3.5 intercambiables para montura Leica screwmount (Elmars fijos previos reconvertidos por la fábrica Leitz de Wetzlar y construidos con la nueva montura de rosca capaz de acoplar diferentes ópticas) habían aparecido en 1931 (año de introducción de la Leica 1 Model C Standard Mount, que fue la primera cámara Leica en incorporar la nueva montura de gran versatilidad, con una distancia de 28.8 mm entre la brida de montaje del objetivo y el plano de película, mientras el diseño de la Leica II estaba muy avanzado), y llevaban un infinity lock a las 11 en punto junto con un botón de liberación bell-push, continuando su fabricación hasta principios de 1932, pero poco después, durante ese mismo año, Leica cambió el infinity lock de sus objetivos Elmar de las 11 en punto a las 7 en punto, porque ello tenía más ventajas para los fotógrafos.    

El Leitz Elmar 50 mm f/3.5 intercambiable número 133594 fabricado en 1932 con un infinity lock a las 7 en punto fue uno de los últimos construidos que muestran su número de serie cincelado sobre el aro de noble latón bajo el cual se aprecia el vidrio del elemento frontal del objetivo y las palas del diafragma, rasgo que comparte con los Elmars anteriores bell-push que incorporaban infinity lock a las 11 en punto. 

Por otra parte, debido a su uso intensivo durante años, este objetivo presenta algunos pequeños arañazos y marcas de limpieza en su lente frontal.

Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

La Leica II (Model D) que inició su producción en Febrero de 1932, era una soberbia cámara para su época, que marcó un punto de inflexión en la historia de las cámaras Leicas telemétricas, ya que fue una de las obras cumbre del equipo Leitz Wetzlar dirigido por Oskar Barnack y la primera en incorporar un telémetro acoplado al mecanismo de enfoque del objetivo hasta que dos imágenes coinciden mediante el clásico sistema de superposición en una sola, y aunque las ventanas del telémetro y el visor no estaban integradas entre sí, la presencia del mencionado telémetro hacía que los fotógrafos pudieran fácilmente hallar la distancia y enfocar con precisión el objetivo, realizándose las operaciones de enfoque y composición de manera separada pero con rapidez.

Por otra parte, el Leitz Elmar 5 cm f/3.5 no revestido, con esquema óptico Tessar de 4 elementos en 3 grupos diseñado por Max Berek en 1924, daba una enorme calidad de imagen para la época y era el referente mundial en poder de resolución y contraste junto con los más luminosos y extraordinarios para la época Mehr Licht Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 5 cm f/1.5 de 7 elementos en 3 grupos y Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 5 cm f/2 de 6 elementos en 3 grupos diseñados por Ludwig Bertele, si bien la enorme compacidad del Elmar con sus 125 gramos le convertían igualmente en un arma poderosa para fotografiar a pulso en sinergia con las también reducidísimas dimensiones y peso de las Leicas de rosca como la Leica II (Model D) y la Leica III (a la que se dotó de un nuevo dial con velocidades de obturación lentas entre 1/20 seg y 1 seg, magnificación de telémetro aumentada hasta 1.5 x, argollas para correa de transporte, y que habitualmente incorporaba un objetivo Summar 5 cm f/2 como óptica standard), que fueron utilizadas por muchos de los más importantes fotoperiodistas del mundo durante los años treinta como Ilse Bing, Otto Umbehr, Erich Salomon, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Walter Bosshard, David Seymour "Chim", Henri Cartier-Bresson, Fred Stein, Robert Capa (que cambió a Contax II con base de telémetro de 90 mm, magnificación de 0.75x y objetivo Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 5 cm f/2 a partir de finales de Mayo de 1937), Agustí Centelles, Thomas D. McAvoy, Jean Moral (que fue mayormente usuario de Rolleiflex de formato medio), y otros.


© Texto y Fotos Indicadas: José Manuel Serrano Esparza. LHSA

martes, 27 de noviembre de 2012

ROBERT CAPA´S FIRST LEICA SOLD DURING THE HISTORICAL 22ND WESTLICHT CAMERA AUCTION

Text and Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza
SPANISH


Berlin, mid July 1932. The 35 mm film rolls exposed by Harald Lechenperg during the wedding of the future maharaja of Patna in the Punjab (India) have just arrived at the seat of Dephot Agency (Deutsche Photodienst).

A young 18 year old laboratory assistant, Endre Ernö Friedmann, known with the nickname of Bandi, who is also working as a delivery boy, has just seen the 24 x 36 mm contact sheets of the aforementioned reportage after the development of the negatives in the darkroom. It´s a turning point in his life. A huge enthusiasm invedes all of his being, and breaking every protocol, he takes the contact sheets in his hand and rushes towards the office of Simon Guttman, director of Dephot Agency, abruptly bursting into it, showing him the little 24 x 36 mm images and crying that those are the best pictures he has ever seen.

Guttman, a highly experienced man regarding the visualization and selection of images (he was the founder of Dephot in 1928 along with Alfred Marx) and one of the best picture editors in history along with Edward K. Thompson, John G. Morris, Jimmy A. Fox, Howard Chapnick, Wilbur E. Garret, Robert Pledge, Monica Cipnic, David Friend, Jay Colton, Jeffrey D. Smith and others, is at those moments the flagship of the German photojournalism, the unchallenged benchmark in early thirties, with such outstanding publications as Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, Muncher Illustrierte Presse, Die Dame, Kölnische Illustrierte, etc.

He has worked closely with Muncher Illustrierte Presse and other illustrated magazines (while Weltrundschau Agency, directed by Rudolph Birnbach, sold its pictures above all to Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, Republican Illustrated and A.I.Z), and also with top-notch photojournalists like André Kertész, E.P. Hahn, Felix H. Mann, Kurt Hutton, Umbo, Walter Bosshard, Harald Lechenperg, Balkin, Wolfgang Weber, Comeriner, Seldow, Tim Gidal, Willy Rugge, Martin Muncaksi and others.

Both the queer situation and Bandi´s unconscious daring greatly draws the attention of Guttmann, who knows Lechenperg deeply (the remarkable Hungarian editor was always accurately aware about the most suitable photographer for every assignment) and guesses that the pictures made in Punjab have to be superb indeed (as a matter of fact, the reportage would be published in the number of Die Dame of August 15, 1932).

He realizes the huge passion that has inflamed the heart of the very young Bandi, and with his great nose for photographers hunting, after talking to him again some more times during the following weeks in the Romanisches Café of the Kurfürstendamm, decides to put him through his paces as a photographer and gives him


the Leica II (Model D) number 90023 with Leitz Elmar 50 mm f/3.5, with which between late August and mid November of 1932 he orders him to make some not signed small photographic tasks in the area of Berlin (mainly getting pictures of people walking through streets and sports events) in order that he can get accustomed to using the little camera in action contexts, as well as verifying his talent, until during the last week of November of 1932, he assigns him his first important credited reportage as a professional photojournalist: to go to Copenhaguen (Denmark) to get pictures of Leon Trotsky during a lecture he will pronounce on November 27, 1932 in the Sports Palace of that city before an attendance of some thousands of university Danish students.

Endre Ernö Friedmann successfully fulfills the mission, takes very good photographs and the first photojournalistic reportage of his life is published two weeks later in full page by the German magazine Der Welt Spiegel in its number of December 11, 1932, with the byline Aufnahmen Friedmann Degephot appearing on its right lower area.

© Lisl Steiner

1961. Twenty-nine years later.

Julia Friedmann goes for the last time to Amawalk Cemetery (New York) to pray by the grave of Robert Capa, her son.

She is being accompanied by a woman whom she met two years before and was about to marry a friend of her son Cornell Capa and has become a great friend of hers.

Julianna Henrietta Berkovits, born in 1888 in Nagy Kapos (Ruthenia), driving axle of Friedmann family in Budapest and the woman who managed to carry her sons Laszlo Friedmann, Endre Friedmann and Kornél Friedmann forward during twenties through strenuous effort and sacrifice of years (with usual exhausting working days from very early in the morning until midnight in the sewing salon of the family, while his husband Dezsö Friedmann spent part of the household income playing cards) is 73 years old.

In spite of the great affection and cares given to her by Cornell Capa, his wife Edie Capa and other persons who went out of their way trying to make her feel well, Robert´s death in 1954 shattered her.

Since then, she has visited some countries like Japan and Italy, invited to speak about her son Bob, but she hasn´t been able to overcome his absence and his memory, which flow every second into her mind and have filled her life with very deep sadness and grief since she attended his burial on June 11, 1954, in this same place in which she is now with her friend.

Julia Friedmann, who changed her name to Julia Capa in United States, is visibly aged and very worn out by suffering. The great health, strength and stamina she always featured have significantly waned, and the warmhearted and beloved Mother Goose is almost without energy to go on living.

Seven years have elapsed since she lost Bob, her favourite son, killed when stepping on a land mine while he was getting pictures during the Indochina War in the area of Thai Binh (Vietnam) on May 25, 1954.

Her elder son Laszlo had died in 1935 from rheumatic fever, and her husband Dezsö had died in 1939.

There has been one only survivor: her youngest son Cornell Capa, a great photographer who will sacrifice his career to fight to his utmost trying keep alive the memory of his brother Robert and his photographic legacy, founding the ICP of New York in 1974, with the help of Edie Capa (who had a very good eye and visual memory for images and had become a remarkable picture editor working from contact sheets, as well as featuring a great organizing talent), Cornell Capa´s secretary Anna Winand - both women had already worked intensively for some years before 1974 inside Cornell´s office in Manhattan, located in the Lower Fifth Avenue, classifying Bob´s huge photographic archive- and Micha Bar-Am.

Julia Friedmann, the all passion and huge working capacity woman, who cooked by the piece - specially Krautfleckerln in Hungarian Káposztás tészta style - from 1937 in the brownstone of West-eighty ninth Street of New York, where she lived with Cornell Capa (who worked as a printer in the laboratory of Pix Agency, founded in Manhattan in 1936 by Leon Daniel, Celia Kutschuk, Alfred Eisenstaedt and George Karger and would quickly become a Life magazine darkroom expert, and after working in the photo intelligence unit of the U.S Air Force during the Second World War,  he turned into a Life staff photographer in 1946) and his wife Edie, preparing meals not only for them but also for many future great pros then still fledging photographers beginning their careers like Ralph Morse (who went to see Mother Goose, Cornell and Edie after finishing his photography classes in the City College of New York) , Eileen Darby (who worked in Pix laboratory in the same way as Cornell Capa and subsequently founded her own agency Graphic House in 1941)), Yale Joel, Phil Schultz and others (including Ruth Orkin from 1943), perceives the proximity of death and sits by the grave of her son Robert Capa, doing it in such a way that she can´t see the inscription with his name on the stone slab, because she can´t stand the sorrow. She is immersed in her own thoughts, with an almost lifeless gaze, and it is at this moment when the woman who has accompanied her to the Amawalk cemetery, gets her last picture.

A few seconds later, a terrible and heart-rending scene happens when suddenly Robert Capa´s mother bursts into tears and throws herself on the grave of his son, yelling: Bob, Bob, Why are you here? !

Next day, two months before her death, Julianna Henrietta Berkovits gives her friend the first Leica camera used by his son Robert Capa: the Leica II (Model D) number 90023 with which the famous war photographer made the first reportage of his life, getting the pictures of Leon Trotsky during the lecture imparted by him in Copenhaguen in 1932 and which Julia Capa had preserved since Bob´s death in 1954.

 Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

THE FIRST LEICA USED BY ROBERT CAPA SOLD IN WESTLICHT PHOTOGRAPHICA AUCTION
A few weeks before its 22nd Camera Auction to be held on November 24, 2012, in its headquarters of Vienna, Westlicht announces that the first Leica camera used by Robert Capa will be among the items on sale.

It brings about a remarkable excitement, for it was known that the famous Hungarian photojournalist had used a chromed Leica III with non coated Leitz Summar 5 cm f/2 designed by Max Berek during the Spanish Civil War(now we know that he also used the Leica II Model D number 90023 with an Elmar 5 cm f/3.5 lens) until late May 1937 and a Contax II with Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 5 cm f/2 designed by Ludwig Bertele from that date, but there was very scarce information about the cameras that he had used before 1935 (year in which he acquired a second body: the Leica III because it was very important for him to be able to use its new dial with 1/20 sec, 1/15 sec, 1/10 sec, 1/8 sec, 1/4 sec, 1/2 sec and 1 sec slow speeds lacked by the Leica II Model D - then, the 35 mm films had a very low sensitivity- after turning the high speed dial to the also new speed mark 20-1 and the quick Summar 5 cm f/2 lens) and above all, it was utterly unknown the fact that Julia Friedmann had given in 1961, shortly before her death, to a person of his utmost confidence, the first Leica camera used by her son Bob in 1932.

51 years later, that person has arrived in Vienna coming from New York and is already within the great hall of Westlicht Photographica Auction, where she is going to attend to the bids for the quoted Leica II (Model D) camera number 90023 that she has discreetly kept for more than half a century and which has decided to put on sale in order that it can be in the hands of a collector or investor in a position to preserve it in future.

Lisl Steiner shows the full page of the number of the German illustrated magazine Der Welt Spiegel of December 11, 1932 with the first reportage made by Endre Ernö Friedmann to Leon Trotsky in Copenhaguen on November 27 of that year with the Leica II (Model D) number 90023 with Leitz Elmar 50 mm f/3.5 lens sold in the 22nd Westlicht Camera Auction held in Vienna on November 24, 2012.

This woman is Lisl Steiner, one of the best women photographers in history, great friend of Julia Capa, Cornell Capa and his wife Edith Schwartz, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Pau Casals, Leonard Bernstein, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Erich Leinsdorf, Louis Armstrong, Pablo Neruda, Pele, Oscar Niemeyer, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, B.B. King, Friedrich Gulda, Martin Luther King, Nat King Cole, Jorge Luis Borges, Rod Steiger, Dmitri Mitropoulos, Sir Thomas Beecham and many other internationally renowned personalities whom Lisl has captured all over the world throughout her professional career of more than 60 years as a photojournalist, and whose pictures were published in top class publications like Life, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, Keystone Press Agency, O Cruzeiro and others, having also been featured in the number 2/2000 of the legendary magazine Leica World, and has likewise worked in a vast range of TV productions for NBC and PBS.

Lisl Steiner holds with both hands two enlarged 24 x 36 mm contacts of the reportage made by Endre Ernö Friedmann to Leon Trotsky in Copenhaguen in 1932, using the Leica II (Model D) number 90023 camera with Leitz Elmar 50 mm f/3.5 lens and bulk loaded black and white cinematographic Kodak Panchromatic Nitrate 35 mm film featuring a sensitivity of Weston 32, roughly equivalent to 40 ASA.

Two years after being delivered the camera by Robert Capa´s mother, she covered with Cornell Capa the presidential campaign of John Fitzgerald Kennedy until the very day of his assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

The starting price of the camera with its Leitz Elmar 50 mm f/3.5 lens was 8,000 euros,

Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

because the Leica II (Model D) was manufactured in great quantities: 21,970 units during 1932 (first production year to which belongs the camera given by Julia Friedmann to Lisl Steiner in 1961), with a total figure of black lacquered 36,938 units and 15,573 chromed ones made between 1932 and 1948.

In spite of it, the bidding minutes for Capa´s first Leica inside the hall of Westlicht Photographica Auction had an indescribable not free of stress thrill, with a very strong ´bidding battle´ that quickly made the price increase by leaps and bounds until reaching the figure of 50,000 euros, which was widely surpassed on attaining the 65,000 euros,

Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

after which a final bidding of 78,000 euros, far superior to the starting price, became the winner, which was a great success and has an important merit, because it is a camera model produced in great quantities, though it isn´t less certain that the persons who took part in the bid were aware about the fact that this camera captured a number of very relevant episodes of the history of photography in the hands of one of his foremost photojournalists.


As a matter of fact, this camera made such assignments as the already mentioned Leon Trotsky´s speech in Copenhaguen in 1932; the reportage of the exhibition of drawings by Heinrich Zille in Berlin in February 1932 which was published in Der Welt Spiegel of March 12, 1933; the Tame Wolf in Hungary in 1933; the reportage of Saarland made in the last week of September 1934 and published in two chapters in the numbers of Vu magazine of November 7 and 21, 1934 with very modern layout of text and pictures for the time; the photographs of the arrangements of the flight of Spanish colonel Emilio Herrera trying to beat the altitude world record with an airship, published in the number of Vu magazine of June 5, 1935; the Seville Easter Holy Week in the number of Voilà of April 4, 1936 with pictures made in 1935; the French voters in the municipal building of Saint Dennis (France) the day of elections on May 3, 1936; the pictures of León Blume speech in Paris on July 14, 1936; the workers of Renault factory on strike in the factory of Boulogne-Billancourt in late May 1936; the workers on strike with a basket of sausages in Saint-Ouen in early June 1936; the exchange brokers under the porch of Paris Bourse building in May 1936; the actors tests in the cinema Crochet of Paris in May of 1936; the reportage made in the last week of June 1936 during the special session of the League of Nations in Geneva and published in the number of Vu of July 8, 1936; the reportage of the International Meeting for Peace held in Verdun (France) on July 12, 1936 celebrating the 20th anniversary of the battle; the street dances celebrating the Day of Le Bastille Capture in Paris on July 14, 1936; the Armistice Day in Paris on November 11, 1936


and a number of historical and famous  reportages made by Robert Capa during the Spanish Civil War (in which he used two cameras, the Leica II Model D with Elmar 5 cm f/3.5 sold in Westlicht and a Leica III Model F with Summar 5 cm f/2 lens) such as the bombings of Madrid (Regards December 10, 1936); a number of the pictures taken in Barcelona and its surroundings and in Aragon Front (Santa Eulalia, Leciñena, etc) in August 1936 published in Regards number of  September 10, 1936; a percentage of the pictures made in Puerta del Sol of Madrid in late August 1936; some of the pictures made in Cerro Muriano and Espejo (Córdoba) in early September of 1936 and published in the number of Vu of September 23, 1936 and Regards number of September 24, 1936; a number of the pictures taken in the University City of Madrid, Parque del Oeste and Casa de Campo during November-December of 1936 (published in Regards numbers of December 10, 17, 24 and 31 of 1936, along with Life of December 28 of that year) and February of 1937 (published in Ce Soir March 11, 1937, Ce Soir March 31, 1937, Ce Soir May 3, 1937, the New York Times of April 4, 1937 and Life of April 26, 1937 ); many of the photographs taken during the escape of Málaga refugees going across the coast road on foot towards Almería fleeing the Francoist troops advance; the Battle of Monte Sollube in Bilbao area during the first week of May 1937 (published in Regards May 20, Ce Soir May 14 and 15; Bilbao city being bombed by Francoist planes and its population running through the streets or watching the aerial combats in early May 1937 (published in Ce Soir May 17, Het Leven June 19, 1937), and others.

The back of the Leica II (Model D) number 90023 has the plug in the back typical in the earliest Leica II cameras. It had been originally been created to be used with the Leica 1 Model A (introduction year 1925), Compur Leica (introduction year 1926) and Leica 1 Model C first version (introduction year 1930), all of them being non standardized models, in such a way that a skilful employee in Wetzlar could put the correct back focus through a hole in the plate enabling the use of a screwdriver from inside the camera, until 1931, year in which the back focus distance was standardized.

There are hints indicating that a high percentage of the earliest Leica II (Model D) cameras made during 1932 were built by the Leitz factory in Wetzlar using remaining bodies featuring the plugged hole on the back coming from both the second half of twenties when Leicas had not interchangeable lenses and also from the period of birth of interchangeable lenses with the Leica 1 Model C Non Standard Mount from 1930-1931, in which lenses were matched to individual cameras as the lens mount flange to film distance varied with each camera, which was individually adjusted for infinity focus, while each lens had to be matched and adjusted for each body.

The non coated and interchageable nickel Leitz Elmar 50 mm f/3.5 number 133594 manufactured in early 1932 matching the Leica II (Model D) number 90023 is historically valuable and interesting, because it was one of the first made featuring 7 o´clock infinity lock.

The earliest interchangeable nickel Leitz Elmars 5 cm f/3.5 lenses (previous fixed Elmars converted to the new screw mount able to accept different lenses by the Leitz factory in Wetzlar) had appeared in early 1931 (year of introduction of the Leica 1 Model C Standard Mount, which was the first Leica camera to sport the new so versatile mount, with a 28.8 mm distance betwen the lens mounting flange and the film plane, while the design of the Leica II was very advanced), and featured an 11 o´clock infinity lock along with bell-push release button and went on being manufactured until early 1932, but soon later in that same year, Leica changed the infinity lock of its Elmars from 11 to 7, because it had more advantages for the photographers.

The interchangeable nickel Leitz Elmar 50 mm f/3.5 lens number 133594 made in early 1932 with a 7 o´clock infinity lock was one of the last ones manufactured showing its serial number chiseled on the ring of noble brass under which can be seen the glass of the front element of the lens and the diaphragm blades, a trait it shares with the earlier standardized bell-push models with 11 o´clock infinity lock.

On the other hand, because of its intensive use for years, this lens features some little scratches and cleaning marks on its front element.


The Leica II (Model D) which began its production in February of 1932, was a superb camera for its time, and meant a turning point in the history of Leica rangefinder cameras, since it was one of the crowning works of the Leitz Westzlar Team directed by Oskar Barnack and the first to feature a rangefinder coupled to the focusing mechanism of the lens until two images coincide by means of the classic system of superposing into one, and though the rangefinder and viewfinder windows were not integrated between each other, the presence of the quoted rangefinder enabled the photographers to easily find the distance and accurately focus the lens, with the focusing and composing operations being made in a separate but quickly way.

On the other hand, the non coated Leitz Elmar 5 cm f/3.5 lens, featuring a 4 elements in 3 groups Tessar optical scheme, designed by Max Berek in 1924, rendered a huge image quality for the time and was the world benchmark in resolving power and contrast, together with the much more luminous and extraordinary for the period Mehr Licht Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 5 cm f/1.5 sporting 6 elements in 3 groups and Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 5 cm f/2 featuring 6 elements in 3 groups designed by Ludwig Bertele, albeit the amazing compactness of the Elmar 5 cm f/3.5 with its weight of 125 g and its exceedingly reduced dimensions also turned it into a powerful weapon for handheld shooting in sinergy with the likewise very small size and weight of the screwmount RF Leicas like the Leica II (Model D) and the Leica III (which was provided with a new dial featuring slow speeds between 1/20 sec and 1 sec, rangefinder magnification increased up to 1.5 x, strap lugs and usually coming with a Leitz Summar 5 cm f/2 as a standard lens), which were used by many of the most important photojournalist in the world during thirties like Ilse Bing, Otto Umbehr, Erich Salomon, Tim Gidal, Alfred Eisenstaedt, David Seymour ´Chim´, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Fred Stein, Robert Capa (who changed to Contax II with a RF base of 90 mm with magnification of 0.75x and a Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 5 cm f/2 from late May 1937), Agustí Centelles, Thomas D. Mc Avoy, Jean Moral (who mostly used a medium format Rolleiflex), and others.


© Text and Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza. LHSA
 

7th WESTLICHT PHOTO AUCTION: THE THRIVING CONSOLIDATION OF AN INTERNATIONAL BENCHMARK

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.

A PHOTOGRAPHIC AUCTION FOR HISTORY
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