It has served to immortalise the most iconic photographs of our time – a look back at a camera that does more than only capture the passing of time.
When Oskar Barnack invented the Ur-Leica in 1914, he was unlikely to have realised the crucial impact his creation would have on the world. By using 35mm perforated cinema film for the first time, Oskar Barnack gave his camera the ability to transform photography into a true art. Better, for the first time in history, the transport of film and shutter technology were assembled into a single device – thus preventing double exposure and allowing the camera to be taken anywhere.
Presented to the public in 1925, the Leica was quickly adopted by the most avant-gardes of eyes. From 1935, Henri Cartier-Bresson would capture Paris at night in the black and white nuances that are known to us today. From the Second World War Robert Capa would initiate photojournalism while being in the heart of conflict zones, with a Leica in his hand. August 26th 1944, it is his Leica that would capture the fervour of the liberation of Paris.
In 1960 another iconic portrait would come from the Leica – the portrait of Che Guevara by Alberto Diaz Gutiérrez.. Some seven years later, in the United States this time, Marc Riboud would capture a photo that would become a universal symbol of pacifism .. A flower against guns, magistral image of a 17 year old girl facing soldiers in front of the Pentagon. A flower in her hand.
All of this and more make the foundation for what is the legend of Leica – this and its part of desirability…often exploding…Just as was the case when a Leica M3D flew at auction for €1,680,000. It must be mentioned that the camera, previously under the ownership of American photographer David Douglas Duncan, was at the origin of many iconic images. Notably the photos which have built the incomparable reputation of Life Magazine. Here lies perhaps the key to what makes Leica an icon. A camera that has served to capture the greatest hours of history but also the darkest.