The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Thursday, August 21, 2014


Camera maker Leica turns focus on the past with lens-shaped new headquarters
A mechanic cleans the sensor of a Leica M9 camera at the production facility of German company Leica in Solms, western Germany, on October 24, 2011. The famous German camera maker Leica will inaugurate its new headquarters on May 23, 2014 in Wetzlar, western Germany, where the company was founded 100 years ago. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL ROLAND.

By: Benoit Toussaint

FRANKFURT.- Leica, the iconic German maker of high-end photographic equipment, will officially inaugurate its new headquarters in Wetzlar this week, marking a return home to the site where it began making cameras 100 years ago.

The opening of the new state-of-the-art site "marks both a return to the roots and a new beginning", says Leica Camera, which had relocated to the nearby town of Solms in the 1980s following a split of its activities.

The spanking new buildings, with their flowing curves and environmentally friendly technology, are designed to resemble a gigantic camera lens and film spools.

They are situated in Leitz Park, which takes its name from Leica's founder Ernst Leitz.

The site incorporates Leica's main factory, as well as a precision optics site and another for precision tool engineering.

To mark the official inauguration of the 60-million-euro ($82-million) project, the prestigious Austrian auction house WestLicht is organising an auction of one hundred rare cameras and pieces of equipment, including a telescope dating back to 1852.

Situated in the central state of Hesse, Wetzlar is the birthplace of Ernst Leitz's business.

It was in here in 1914 that optical engineer and precision mechanic Oskar Barnack, in his drive to maker smaller, lighter cameras, built the first prototype of the Ur-Leica, which spawned a long line of models, including the legendary "Leica M".

"The M model was what made Leica's reputation. It long stood for purity of form," said French photogapher, Guy Le Querrec, member of Magnum Photos.

Favoured by the pioneers of photojournalism, such as Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Leica, with its distinctive red button logo, carefully cultivated its exclusive image.

It singled out talented photographers and gave them a Leica camera to work with, Le Querrec said.

One of the most famous photos taken with a Leica camera was a portrait of Cuban revolutionary leader Che Guevara by Alberto Korda.

"Leicas were distinguished by their robustness, their high-quality lenses and because they were easy to use," said another French photographer Cyprien Clement-Delmas.

"In addition, their aesthetic left its mark on generations of photo-reporters," he said.

Nevertheless, the company found itself in difficult times at the start of the new century after having failed to catch on to digital photography and under attack from competition from rival Asian makers.

Leica was also a victim of its own success. The robustness of its models meant that photographers would rather by well-preserved second-hand cameras than invest in new models.

In 2005 when the firm was barely a shadow of its old self, it was bought up by Austrian Andreas Kaufmann, who now heads the supervisory board.

It was Kaufmann who wanted to restore Leica back to its former glory.

In 2011, he received support with the arrival of the private equity group Blackstone, which bought a stake for 160 million euros.

Amid cut-throat price competition in the sector, Kaufmann converted Leica to digital technology while continuing to cultivate its high-end reputation. And the strategy appears to be paying off, with double-digit sales growth seen since 2011.

It is seeking to rejuvenate the brand. Most recently, the group launched a new generation of digital cameras, the T series, with the collaboration of engineers from German luxury car maker Audi.

It was "a return to the essentials", says Leica.


© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse



Today's News

May 26, 2014

Camera maker Leica turns focus on the past with lens-shaped new headquarters

Belgium police release video of attack on Jewish museum that killed four persons

Stradivarius violin kept in closet could fetch $10 million at Christie's sale in New York

Saint Louis Art Museum presents "Tragic and Timeless: The Art of Mark Rothko"

New exhibition by Ai Weiwei opens in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park's newly refurbished 18th century chapel

Regen Projects' first exhibition with Mexican artist Gabriel Kuri opens in Los Angeles

The Kröller-Müller Museum presents 'Seurat: Master of Pointillism' exhibition

Hamburger Kunsthalle invites contemporary artists to create works that relate to the city of Hamburg

Roberto Cuoghi presents an immersive sound installation at the New Museum in New York

Lambert Collection opens an ambitious project housed at the Sainte-Anne Prison

Daniele Buetti creates a sound installation for the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt

Dzine presents his most recent work at Walter Otero Contemporary Art in San Juan

Exhibition at Messum's offers an introductory survey to the work of Miles Richmond

Auctions America announces a complete ACD lineup for its flagship Auburn fall event

Bonhams Los Angeles presents four hundred years of Eropean history and design at June auction

Morgan Lehman opens exhibition of the work of Ruby Palmer

Wet Light: Bill Jenkins' second solo exhibition at Laurel Gitlen in New York

Major artworks by regional artists to be sold June 7-8 in New Orleans

Design journalist turned pop artist Helen Kirwan-Taylor opens exhibition at Themes & Variations

Thought-provoking book explores ways in which contemporary artists are confronting nature

The Traces of Time: Igor Mitoraj opens exhibition at ContiniArtUK

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Mystery over massive Alexander the Great-era tomb unearthed in northern Greece

2.- An ancient money box containing a large rare hoard of coins found in Israel

3.- Robin Williams' portrait installed today at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington

4.- The Baltimore Museum of Art announces three new contemporary exhibitions in fall

5.- New Aspen Art Museum designed by architect Shigeru Ban opens to the public

6.- New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art launches 82nd & Fifth app in 12 languages

7.- MoMA online-only publication features new research on Pablo Picasso and Cubism

8.- Volunteers needed for massive Smithsonian digitization project

9.- Tate Britain welcomes home John Everett Millais's Ophelia and Rossetti’s The Beloved

10.- Bogart estate: Hollywood golden age icon Lauren Bacall dead at 89 in New York



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Rmz. - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site