If you're a big Leica collector looking to purchase your next show-stopping camera, want something special to hang on your wall, or are just a fan of the legendary manufacturer, then you'll be thrilled to hear that the 42nd Leitz Photographica auction is taking place from June 09-10.
• Check out the best Leica cameras to pick up a future classic of your own
The auction will be split into two categories: Modern Times will be held on June 09 covering the sale of prestigious photography, including some stunning work by Terry O'Neill, John Bulmer, and Walker Evans, with the auction of historic cameras taking place on June 10.
The theme of the Leitz Photographica Auction 42 focuses on photographs from iconic photographers and the cameras they used. The upcoming edition of the world-renowned camera auction will take place in Wetzlar, Germany, and will feature an exquisite collection of photographs and cameras.
With their exclusive black paint Leica cameras, Bulmer and Evans documented some of the most important chapters in the history of the 20th Century, while O'Neill's celebrated film star portraits shed light on the mystery of Hollywood.
Collectors with a taste for the fine arts will also find interest in the Leica MP 'Planet Earth' engraved by British designer and artist, Johnny Dowell – aka King Nerd – seen below.
With vintage cameras, buyers are particularly interested in not only the craftsmanship of the equipment but also in its historical relevance.
"Cameras from famous previous owners are extremely popular," says Alexander Sedlak, managing director of Leica Camera Classics, under whose umbrella the auction house operates. "This auction year, we are focusing on cameras that belonged to celebrated photographers."
Historic devices from a wide range of manufacturers will be auctioned, but the focus is on Leica. "Picturing the world with a Leica has its own appeal. But this time we also have a camera in the auction on which the world has been depicted," adds Sedlak, referring to the Leica MP 'Planet Earth'.
King Nerd specializes in bespoke engravings, and embellished a Leica MP with the image of the Earth. The camera will be auctioned on June 10, with the relationship between art and technology being a theme of the two-day auction.
John Bulmer (born 1938) enriched the elegiac black-and-white of photojournalism with color. His work for the British Sunday Times Magazine, the world's first color supplement to a national newspaper, opened the door to a new era of reportage photography.
Bulmer was often inspired by the home of his childhood, the industrial north of England. Photographs such as Manchester or Miners in Waldridge – both part of the photography auction Modern Times, held on the opening day of Leitz Photographica Auction 42 – established Bulmer's reputation as a humanistic observer with an unerring eye for detail.
Alongside the photographs, a Leica M3 black paint by the British photographer is also up for sale. "Leica cameras in black paint have enjoyed enormous popularity among collectors of historical cameras for some years now," says Sedlak.
"Considering the famous previous owner as well, the M3 is certainly a highlight of the upcoming Leitz Photographica." The camera will be auctioned with a Summicron 2/50mm lens – also in black paint. Furthermore, Bulmer's illustrated book The North is included in the lot.
Another highlight of the auction is a Leica M2 black paint by Walker Evans (1903-1975), who purchased the camera in 1962 and shot with it for over 10 years before switching from 35mm film to a larger format.
Evans is considered one of the greatest American photographers in history and his works have been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the George Eastman Museum, the Centre Pompidou and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, to name but a few. The photograph Penny Pictures Display was shown at MoMA twice – in a solo exhibition in 1938 and a retrospective in 1971.
"It is one of Walker Evans' most famous works," explains Anna Zimm, photography expert at Leica Camera Classics. "On a trip through the Southern States of the US, Evans photographed the window display of a photo studio in Savannah.
"The 'readymade' and accidental photo collage is a very modern and casual image. It questions the distinction between documentary and art photography. Throughout his life, Evans understood the term 'documentary' only as a makeshift metaphor for his particular style of artistic photography."
Evans' approach was considered revolutionary at the time and influenced later generations of photographers, such as Robert Frank and Harry Callahan, but also Pop Art painters and contemporaries such as Bernd and Hilla Becher and Thomas Ruff. The print of Penny Pictures Display in the auction is a silver gelatin print from the Seventies. It originally came from the collection of Harry Lunn, who worked with Evans from 1974 onwards.
In 1977, Faye Dunaway won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Sidney Lumet's Network. After a marathon of congratulations and partying, Dunaway had gone to bed at 03:00 but came down to the pool of the Beverly Hills Hotel at 06:30 for a photo session.
"The shot, taken by Terry O'Neill, shows the actress at the peak of her career while revealing the true nature of behind-the-scenes showbiz fame," says Caroline Guschelbauer, who is responsible for Modern Times together with Anna Zimm, describing another highlight of the photography auction.
"Only a single, short night separates a career high from the day job, a scene perfused with slight melancholy is created. O'Neill named the image The Morning After – and called it the best Oscar photo ever taken."
O'Neill (1938-2019) came from London to Los Angeles in the Seventies and soon made a name for himself as the stars’ portrait photographer. A year before his death, the British-born photographer collaborated with Leica UK to release 35 "Special Edition Sets" consisting of a Leica MP film camera, a Summilux 50mm f1.4 lens, and a previously unpublished shot of Audrey Hepburn.
While O'Neill's legendary photograph of Faye Dunaway will be auctioned as part of Modern Times, one of these 35 sets will also be part of the camera auction. For more information, visit the Leitz Photographica Auction 42 website.
If you want to splurge on a camera with classic styling but modern tech, you should take a look at the best retro cameras to give you those nostalgic vibes. However, if you really need a Leica then see which one is best for you – the Leica M11 for ultimate resolution, the Leica M11 Monochrom for black-and-white brilliance, or the Leica Q2 if you want a sleek luxury compact with a fixed 28mm.