Fotograf Magazine

The Manfred Heiting Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston

The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston won out over many other interested parties and acquired one of the biggest private collections from Manfred Heiting, a successful German manager and collector living in Amsterdam and Los Angeles. From the mid-1970s on, he was able to assemble a collection of roughly 3,760 photographs, covering the main trends, figures and works of practically the entire development of photography. His almost encyclopaedic collection includes rare period originals by dozens of famous artists. Nineteenth- -century photography is well represented in the collection, which includes, for example, works by Talbot, Marville, Baldus and Le Gray. The Russian avant-garde is also strongly represented. (In 1992, Heiting purchased Rodchenko’s 1934 photograph ‘Girl with a Leica’ for 115,500 pounds at an auction at Christie’s in London. At that time, that was the highest auction price ever paid for a photograph.) His collection also includes works by artists of German, French and American inter-war photography and, last but not least, the Czech avant-garde. The Houston museum, which already has a good collection of Czech photography, will thus acquire more rare originals by Drtikol, Funke, Rössler and Sudek. It will also acquire the work of contemporary Czech photographers collected by Heiting, whose wife was Czech and whose son studied photography at the Prague Film Academy of Performing Arts. Before the agreement concerning the purchase of the collection was finalised with the photography curator of the Houston museum, Anne Wilkes Tucker, the treasures of the Heiting collection were exhibited in the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum and published in a multiple volume exclusive publication. In 2000, Prague Castle Administration wanted to hold an exhibition of works from the Heiting collection, in cooperation with the firm Olympus C + S, but in the end it did not come about. The exact sum that the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston will pay for the Heiting collection over a number of years has not yet been disclosed, but it is certain to amount to many millions of dollars. Last year Anne Wilkes Tucker was declared best American curator by Time magazine.

Vladimír Birgus