- Lucas Samaras
- Unique Polaroid SX-70 print
Lucas Samaras: Photo-Transformations (Long Beach, 1975), pl. 15
The Polaroid Book (Köln, 2008), p. 87
Variants of this image:
Lucas Samaras: Photo-Transformations (The Pace Gallery, 1974), unpaginated
Samaras: The Photographs of Lucas Samaras (Aperture, 1987), p. 57
Marla Prather, Unrepentant Ego: The Self-Portraits of Lucas Samaras (Whitney Museum of American Art, 2003), p. 171
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
In 1973, Polaroid employee John Holmes arranged for artist Lucas Samaras to receive one of the company's new SX-70 cameras. The result of years of research, the SX-70 was the realization of Polaroid founder Edwin Land's original impulse: to create a truly instant one-step camera that produced images in full color. The SX-70 in the hands of Samaras—whose career had already established its tone of fearless experimentation—became a powerful tool for transformation. Earlier, in 1969, Samaras had undertaken a series of self-portrait studies with the Polaroid 360, producing a series of black-and-white images that the artist then altered with drawing. These AutoPolaroids, as Samaras called them, laid the groundwork for a new self-portrait series with the SX-70, the Photo-Transformations.
The unique properties of the SX-70 allowed Samaras to pursue this transformation in a wholly new way. Within the multi-layer complex of the SX-70 print, the emulsion remained soft and malleable during, and even after, development. Samaras exploited this peculiarity of the process to manipulate the emulsion—pushing, pulling, and even scrambling it—to create transformations that range from the surreal to the phantasmagoric.
In the present Photo-Transformation, Samaras has executed considerable delicate handwork upon the print after it was ejected from the camera and the automatic development commenced. As the image formed, Samaras used a stylus or other tool to create the dart-like lines that seem to either pierce or radiate from his torso. Other examples of Samaras's manipulative effects with the SX-70 can be seen in Lots 123 and 124. Les Krims was another master of the manipulated SX-70, and his work in this vein can be seen in Lots 23, 122, and 142. Both Samaras and Krims are two of the dedicatees of Robert Heinecken's Polaroid Drawing Triptych, an instructional guide to the art of manipulating SX-70 prints (Lot 179).