Friday, August 19, 2016

Andrey Tarkovsky - polaroids at Bonhams London on 6 October 2016

The definitive collection of Polaroids taken by the legendary filmmaker Andrey Tarkovsky (1932-1986) will come to auction for the first time in a stand-alone sale, Nostalgia: Before and After – Important Polaroids by Andrey Tarkovsky, at Bonhams London on 6 October 2016.

The photographs – 257 Polaroids in total, are divided into 29 lots containing nine or ten pictures each, with estimates ranging from £20,000-37,000 per lot. They date from Tarkovsky's time in Italy and Russia and come directly from his family. The collection will be previewed at Bonhams 580 Madison Avenue New York, 8-22 August and at Bonhams 101 New Bond Street, 2-6 October. Many of the photographs were taken while Tarkovsky was making Nostalgia, and the photos feature the familiar atmospheric landscapes and settings of that legendary 1983 film. From intimate snapshots of Tarkovsky's circle of friends and dog, to evocative pictures of the Russian and Italian countryside, the works give a glimpse of late 70s and early 80s life, frozen in time.

Tarkovsky started experimenting with the Polaroid camera in the late seventies, and was delighted with the results, although he immediately burned the Polaroids he was not happy with. In the autumn issue of Bonhams Magazine, film historian Mark Le Fanu looks at Tarkovsky's "passion for Polaroids" and explores its significance. "The addiction (I think we can call it that) began in 1979," said Le Fanu. "There was something about the way that the camera gave an instant image of the view being photographed that he found propitious, and useful, for his task of location-hunting. That, and the fact that he liked their saturated but at the same time diffused (and ever so slightly 'retro') color reproduction, which gave each of the stills an air of mystery." In the introductory essay to an album of the photographs, published in 2006, Tonino Guerra, Tarkovsky's scriptwriter, recalls the filmmaker's discovery of the camera's magical effects: "At my wedding in Moscow in 1977, Tarkovsky had a Polaroid camera in his hand and he moved about happily with this instrument which he discovered only recently. 

Tarkovsky often reflected on the way that time flies and this is precisely what he wanted: to stop it, even with these quick Polaroid shots." Andrey Tarkovsky, one of the greatest Russian directors of all time, pioneered a new era of filmmaking with his celebrated films such as Nostalgia, Stalker, Solaris and Ivan's Childhood. He continues to be renowned for his slow-paced, lingering style and his unconventional dramatic structure. Daria Chernenko, Head of Bonhams' Russian Art department, said, 'These pictures are a surprising glimpse of Tarkovsky, who throughout his life was obsessed with the passing of time. The dream-like compositions are reflective of his filmmaking. They've never been on the market before and now his family are selling the collection in its entirety. There has already been a significant amount of interest in these one-off works, both from museums and film institutes.'

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