Originally, the 20x24 camera was built by Edwin Land and his team for a shareholder’s meeting. Land wanted to showcase the quality of the Polaroid material on an even larger material than 8x10, the largest size available at the time.
Land said of his new invention: "The aesthetic goal of the new camera is to provide those who have an artistic interest in the world around them with a new means of expression."
In the 1970s, Polaroid built a prototype and five more of these incredible giant cameras.
Edwin Land saw with the 20x24 camera the possibility to provide artists with a new medium for their work. It was created to underline a link between the mass market and fine art photography. From the very beginning, Polaroid separation film was about fine art photography, and many artists appreciated it and used it. It was not just about the quality and longevity of the material, but also about the creative potential that lies in the Polaroid material, its uncontrollability and the possibilities of change or alienation.
The results can still be admired today. Contrary to the misleading stereotype, the Polaroid image is anything but transient. Galleries, collections and museums the world over are filled with Polaroid images.
These images are neither reproducible nor can they be reprinted. With a Polaroid picture, you can be sure that it is always an original. It is fascinating to know that what you hold in your hands has passed through the artist's hand. Collecting Polaroid means having originals of incomparable quality.
The first 20x24 Land Camera - the prototype - is in the Harvard Museum of Scientific Instruments. It was a gift to Edwin Land on his retirement in 1982 and was later part of the Lands Rowland Foundation legacy to Harvard University. Camera #2 is in 20x24 Studio New York by John Reuter and is sometimes used in the Lincoln Center and Downtown for photo shoots. In Boston, Elsa Dorfman had her portrait studio with camera #3. Camera #4 is also no longer in operation and sits in a warehouse in Enschede, Netherlands.
Number #5 was the last camera built in the 70s by Polaroid's Metalworking and Woodworking Department under the direction of John McCann and was mainly used in Europe in the 1990s.
Jan Hnizdo, who ran the 20x24 studio from the Germany HQ, brought the camera to Prague in the late 2010s, where he opened a studio on Wenceslas Square.
In 2019, Markus Mahla acquired the last Polaroid 20x24 Land Camera and founded the 20x24 studio in Berlin.