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As creative director of an advertising agency in Austria, Andrea Preiss worked with many photographers whose work she coveted, but the images remained elusive — until technology intervened.
Sometimes she would drop a not-so-subtle hint, as she did at Arthur Elgort’s studio when she saw a photo she liked, and said, “That’s nice, I’d love to have it.” There were instances when a photographer would give her a gift. Other times, Preiss would try to track down images by calling photographers’ agents and galleries.
This story first appeared in the July 28, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“It’s not very simple to buy these things when you travel and work a lot,” she said. “The kind of things I want to collect do not really exist in galleries. [The photographers] may have had an exhibition and maybe have only one or two images left.”
Preiss thought there had to be a better way. An e-commerce site based in Vienna, photographerslimitededitions.com, is her solution. The site features the works of top lensmen such as Elgort, Guy Aroch, Marc Baptiste, Rankin, Bruno Bisang, Roxanne Lowit, Nigel Parry, Howard Schatz, Ben Watts, Timothy White and Christian Witkin. There are no more than 25 prints of each image.
Prices range from 1,000 euro, or $1,530, to 8,000 euro, or $12,240, based on the current exchange rate.
Elgort, whose work has been published in Vogue, Visionaire and Vanity Fair, contributed the photo, “Lauren Hutton for Ultima Revlon” (silver gelatine print, 1975), which shows the model wearing a white fur coat and sitting on a park bench as Elgort, seated on the next bench, trains his lens on her.
“Fashion photography is getting more recognized as an art,” said Preiss, who has photos by David LaChapelle and Helmut Newton in her personal collection.
“I put all the nice photographers that I want to have in my collection together,” she said. “The photographers liked the idea immediately. They said, ‘We all work with the Internet and buy from the computer. Dealing with traditional galleries is a lot of work.’”
Several photographers declined to participate, not because they didn’t like the concept, but because of time constraints. “Steven Klein is doing so much new film work now,” Preiss said. “He’s too busy.”
Besides fashion, Preiss is drawn to photographs of dancers, nudes and celebrity portraits. “I’m looking for different styles of photography,” she said. “I want to show the different kinds of styles and the big spectrum of artwork you can get.”
Preiss seeks to offer a range of price points. Guy Aroch’s “Picture 3” (C-Print, 2006), which owes a debt to the cheesecake portraits of the Fifties, sells for 2,504 euros, or $3,930. “Swimming Pool” (C-Print, 2005), Marc Baptiste’s photograph of a nude floating on her back amid swirls of blue water, is 7,512 euros, or $11,790.
Lowit’s “Nan Kempner, Fran Stark and Jacqueline de Ribes, The Metropolitan Opera’s 100th anniversary in 1984” (silver gelatine print) captures the women looking like birds in full plumage. Kemper has a stem of orchids tucked into her hair while de Ribes’ long neck is further accentuated by a tall updo. The price: 3,505 euros, or $5,502.
There’s also Andreas H. Bitesnich’s stark, atmospheric architecture series of buildings in Paris and Egypt [silver gelatine prints, 1997], and New York [silver gelatine print, 1998], 3,505 euros, or $5,502 each. Rankin’s “Kate Moss Explosions” (black-and-white archival lambda print, 1999), 3,250 euros, or $5,100, which shows the model wearing garters and stockings and nothing else.
“My second [project] will be to have a gallery,” Preiss said. “Yesterday, I sold prints to people in Mexico and Prague. It’s so fantastic to offer something worldwide.”