The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, has acquired the collection of 3,760 photographs spanning the years 1840-2000 assembled by the Amsterdam-based collector Manfred Heiting. The Heiting Collection is recognized as one of the important photography collections in the world and it will come to the museum in its entirety. Reportedly the deal involved approximately $35 million between gifts and outright purchases.
Peter C. Marzio, director of the museum, said, "The addition of the Heiting Collection enhances the breadth and quality of the museum's photography collection, propelling the museum's collection to placement among the top ten in the world." With the addition of the Heiting Collection, the photography holdings now total almost 20,000 prints.
The museum's photography department is under the direction of Anne Wilkes Tucker, the Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator of Photography.
Heiting often collected in depth, both the work of individual artists and from particular historical periods. The greatest concentrations are works by American and German artists, but he has also focused on members of the Czech avant-garde, particularly the works of Frantisek Drtikol, Jaroslav Rossler, Jaromir Funke, and Josef Sudek.
Among the other 20th-century artists whose works he owns in depth are the German photographers Albert Renger-Patzsch and August Sander, and the Americans Paul Outerbridge, Walker Evans, Ansel Adams, Robert Frank, Frederick Sommer, and Irving Penn.
The 19th-century portion of the collection is particularly strong in the work of photography's inventor, William Henry Fox Talbot, and French photographers Gustave LeGray, Charles Marville, and Edouard Baldus. Besides Talbot, other British photographers whose works are well represented include the portraitists David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, and two photographers of Asia, Captain Henry Dixon and Captain Linnaeus Tripe.
"The Heiting Collection is a visual record of the people, places, and events that defined the Western world from 1840 to 2000," added Tucker, "and it dovetails seamlessly with the museum's current holdings. Interestingly, the two collections have great strength in similar areas, with almost no overlap, such as photographs made between the World Wars by members of the Czech, Russian, and German avant-garde. I am very much looking forward to the vast exhibition possibilities the collection offers."
The collection is fully researched and documented, and Heiting has published two limited edition books highlighting the 19th-century photographs and segments of the 20th-century European photographs.
Heiting plans to publish two additional books in collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. One will cover the years 1916 to 1968, focusing on America, Russia, and photojournalism, and the other will pick up at 1968 and look at international trends in contemporary photography with a particular focus on his holdings of images made with Polaroid materials.
Peter MacGill and Hans P. Kraus, Jr. of New York represented the Manfred Heiting Collection.