Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Highest Price Paid for a Camera to date

An 89-year-old Leica camera recently sold at Galerie Westlicht in Vienna, Austria for nearly $2.8 million. The anonymous bidder not only has one of 12 surviving models of the legendary 0-Series, but an important piece of women's history. 25 test models were originally made in 1923 as prototypes for the compact and durable Leica A which made its debut to the public the following year. But this prototype was more than just a camera. It served a symbol for the profound change women underwent in the 20th century.

The camera, once a complex, cumbersome instrument now became available to everyone.  It was affordable. When it became apparent that the camera could record any kind of situation and experience -- that it was the source of an instant form of immortality -- everyone wanted one.  It wasn’t just men but women who took up the camera and began recording images of their ordinary lives.  These cameras were hand-held and fast-action and could capture a fleeting moment in time under a low light -- an expression, a gesture, a mood, a posture. 

This camera was emblematic of widespread social changes. And photography was the field where these changes were most evident.  Using their own cameras, women created their own portraits and self-portraits. More and more women altered the rules by which they had traditionally been regarded to terms they could understand and control.  Interestingly enough.... the traditional male images of women began to correspondingly change.

Leica 0 series, number 116. Photo by Leonhard Foeger for Reuters.