Previous news story    Next news story

In case you were curious, here are the 10 most expensive photos ever sold.

By dpreview staff on Jul 22, 2013 at 18:56 GMT

Photography has been around for almost two hundred years, but amazingly, it's only in the past couple of decades that it has gained widespread acceptance as an artform. These days, images by significant photographers command very high prices. But just how high is 'very high'? Internet community FreeYork.org has published a list of the ten most expensive photos ever sold. Start saving up your pennies...

Rhein II – Andreas Gursky (1999) $4.3 million

The number 1 spot is taken by Andreas Gursky's Rhein II, which sold for $4.3 at auction in 2011, making it the most expensive photograph ever sold. It is the second, and largest print of a set of six images of the Rhein - a river in Germany. And to be fair, that's exactly what the picture looks like. Yep - there's a river. 

This is 'Untitled #96' by Cindy Sherman, which sold for $3.9 million, also in 2011. The 1981 print sold to New York dealer Philippe Segalot. 

Sherman is one of the most bankable 'art' photographers in the world. Her photo Untitled #153 sold for $2.7 million in November 2010.

Source: freeyork.org

Comments

Total comments: 247
12
babsie120
By babsie120 (1 week ago)

See Modern Art by Aubrey Thomas Goodman.
That is real art.

0 upvotes
PeterFree
By PeterFree (9 months ago)

I once saw an exhibition of Jeff Wall in London. I was absolutely staggered that such arbitrary work got given any attention at all. One really has to see the full sized prints up on display to realize just how unimaginably uninteresting and dull this man's 'work' truly is. The fact that governments have sponsored him may in part explain how such a travesty has occurred. That the names of Ansel Adams or Michael Kenna (and many others) are not on this list of "10 most expensive photos ever sold" is a testimony to the evils of Fine Art Academia. I have seen "Professors" of fine art making piles of building rubble, back squares of canvas evenly coated with bitumen and other such obviously identifiable items of rubbish as serious submissions of 'Art' for prospective degrees in Academia. The all encompassing argument of "but who is to say its not art?" being held up by people who are supposed to be experts against those who would cry "but the Emperor is NAKED"

4 upvotes
hemiola
By hemiola (9 months ago)

Truer words have never been spoken!
Let me add just one more thought: it's time pretentious people drop the infamous "you guys just don't get it" line from their vocabulary. Maybe 100 years ago it was true when the gap between the elite and the masses was still huge, but nowadays even poor, unsophisticated, uncultured people have access to almost the same level of education and information (at least in the civilized world this is the case). So when a pretentious elitist shouts "you just don't get it" next time, maybe he's right, or maybe there's simply nothing to get.

2 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (8 months ago)

I encourage you to temper your generalizations about academia (note that I omit the your capitalization of the word). It is greatly erroneous to assert that the academic world is a monolithic endorser of any one given philosophy - there is no such consolidated agenda. I have taught at both the university and community college levels for over ten years. What I teach, and have found to be the case with many colleagues, is a balance of formal, technical, and conceptual instruction, with reasonable variances in emphasis between individual instructors and different programs. The opinion you put forward about acamedia seems to imply that we, professors, wear monicles and conspire to promote an elitist agenda. It is an asinine assertion that might be supported anecdotally in some rare instances but is not a widespread condition. I do expect my students to engage with a range of art/photo historical contexts. And, in this way, perhaps certain elements may not be greatly understood by the general public. But photography is a discipline that contains a fair degree of complexity of applications and concepts in the hundred plus years that photography has struggled to gain acceptance as a serious art form. I encourage my students to vigorously question art historical claims and form cogent arguments against contemporary theories if they disagree with them. So I have trouble reconciling that environment with your vision of academia.

As for a spirited discussion about the merits, or lack there of, of this work, please take the time to read deeper into this discussion thread. Many, including myself, have developed a rigorous dialog about this work, some comments being very informative and insightful.

Ps- the naked emperor is a bit of a tired metaphor - you might want to consider another.

1 upvote
b craw
By b craw (8 months ago)

I encourage you to temper your generalizations about academia (note that I omit the your capitalization of the word). It is greatly erroneous to assert that the academic world is a monolithic endorser of any one given philosophy - there is no such consolidated agenda. I have taught at both the university and community college levels for over ten years. What I teach, and have found to be the case with many colleagues, is a balance of formal, technical, and conceptual instruction, with reasonable variances in emphasis between individual instructors and different programs. The opinion you put forward about acamedia seems to imply that we, professors, wear monicles and conspire to promote an elitist agenda. It is an asinine assertion that might be supported anecdotally in some rare instances but is not a widespread condition. I do expect my students to engage with a range of art/photo historical contexts. And, in this way, perhaps certain elements may not be greatly understood by the general public. But photography is a discipline that contains a fair degree of complexity of applications and concepts in the hundred plus years that photography has struggled to gain acceptance as a serious art form. I encourage my students to vigorously question art historical claims and form cogent arguments against contemporary theories if they disagree with them. So I have trouble reconciling that environment with your vision of academia.

As for a spirited discussion about the merits, or lack there of, of this work, please take the time to read deeper into this discussion thread. Many, including myself, have developed a rigorous dialog about this work, some comments being very informative and insightful.

Ps- the naked emperor is a bit of a tired metaphor - you might want to consider another.

0 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (8 months ago)

I apologize for multiple postings of the same comment. I am not presently on media that can retract the redundant postings.

0 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (8 months ago)

Should you not want to investigate the entirety of this thread (admittedly, it is a bit tedious), let me briefly touch upon a point of some confusion demonstrated by you and others. The reasons for these seemingly astronomical sums payed for these works is partly due to the speculative art investment market. There is, with many of these on the list, a controlled scarcity that fuels this circumstance. Adams' and Kenna's work are available at greater numbers, therefore each unit value is lower. And, while I do believe the artists listed here are important via my own analysis, and have also been deemed so through rigorous debate academically and otherwise, please do not conflate profitability and importance. Much important and resonant art simply does not function in this level of the marketplace.

0 upvotes
PeterFree
By PeterFree (8 months ago)

b craw. I read the thread before I wrote my piece, including your condescending and dismissive replies to others who were expressing their upfront and honest reactions to seeing these 'works'. Such open reactions some would say contain a child like revelation of simple truth. Your attempt to put words in my mouth and thus belittle both me and what I am saying is weak and predictable and highlights some of your own dishonesty in your own statements. If you truly "...encourage my students to vigorously question art historical claims.." why then are you so vigorously opposing those who denounce these 'art historical claims' here on this forum? Or will you now say 'oh they have not given a 'proper' contextual assessment' or some other such statement with which to say that ones opinion is not 'qualified'?

0 upvotes
PeterFree
By PeterFree (8 months ago)

b craw. As for your 'revelation' about the speculative investment market again all you are doing is showing how little you think other know and your own arrogance. Speculation in investment is hardly limited to the art markets and it most certainly is fueled by whatever is causing the speculation. So, what has caused these 'works' to become so valuable? The Wall Street Journal ran an article about the prospects of their price rising? Or could it be that someone or some persons who 'know art' had a hand in hyping up their value? Who would that have been? Fine Art Professors?

0 upvotes
PeterFree
By PeterFree (8 months ago)

b craw. Scarcity being held as a value in photography is ignorance. In truth even celluloid film has no 'limit' to its production. (not to mention a digital file) Limited editions have their roots in physical contact printing, when making each print wore down the plate. To apply limits in photography is a con. Any photographic artist saying 'this is a limited edition' is in fact saying 'I don't believe this work could stand on its own unless I attract to it a value that it intrinsically does not (or should not) in fact hold.' What does that say of the artist? Is such an artificial inflation of value 'artistic' or 'gimmick' in nature? Who is prizing and championing the gimmick?

0 upvotes
PeterFree
By PeterFree (8 months ago)

b craw. The naked emperor metaphor is chosen carefully, as it is both highly appropriate and widely understood. For someone who likes to use academic sounding words which are neither appropriate nor widely understood I am not surprised that you fail to understand why the obvious and accurate is the first choice of others, but that is the difference between those who wish to communicate and those who wish to obscure and confuse.

0 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (8 months ago)

PeterFree: I'll try to be brief. I acknoledge your points as to a necessary cause that fuels speculation, as well as your questioning of the existence of the scarcity of a photograph. But, to be fair, my response was primarily directed at your claims relating to academia as a unified arbiter of art value, or, more particular the insinuation that it promotes an elitist agenda. You failed to provide much by way of real evidence of this, only one example of curatorial commentary (which I, too, believe sounds assumptive and problematic). But this is, by no means, indication of the malignant "Academia" you suggest. Additionally, that you don't like Wall's work is fine, except that your commentary includes the claim that Wall's work is "arbitrary"; not that you perceive it as arbitrary, but that it is arbitrary. I've followed his work for some time - some I like and some I don't respond to - but arbitrary it does not seem to be. His writings on his processes and the state(s) of photography in a broad sense very much indicate logical control over subject matter. I also find it curious that you speak of the dismissive quality of many of my responses to other posters when you are providing highly dismissive words directed both at this work and academia, all within an argument amounting to a hit and run logically. Lastly, if some of what I said in my responses came across as condescending, please observe that in one particular case, I was having to correct the claim of one poster that "only one on the list was a photographer". This factual inaccuracy, not a matter of interpretation, deserved every bit of condescension.

0 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (8 months ago)

And if by my "arrogance" you mean commentary informed by 20 years of making and considering photography, technically, formally, conceptually, philosophically, etc., then I suppose I will not argue to vigorously against your term. I do acknowledge the validity of opinions contrary to my own, but have more respect for bold dismissals of certain work when such claims speak from a degree of knowledge of the fuller context of art and photography. Yes, this is an academic standard, but a fair one. And it has little to do with whether work is compelling or liked by a given individual. That is something separate entirely.

0 upvotes
PeterFree
By PeterFree (8 months ago)

b craw: Arrogance as in your pompous dismissal of the comments others make and the manner in which you put words in others mouths. mcshan's post below is perfect example of how you do not "acknowledge the validity of opinions contrary to my own" but arrogantly dismiss them. mcshan has a very valid point, that of endorsement being given based on the momentum of endorsement already received, not on actual value and content. Many here have said the same thing. Your '20 years' has lead you to conclude that Jeff Wall's work is interesting and significant. I have no further comment. Besides that, just who is the arbiter of what a "degree of knowledge of the fuller context of art and photography" is exactly? You say academia is not a "a unified arbiter of art value" but then you also say "work is legitimized by the art world, academia, and the like "So which is it? Of course there is no 'conspiracy' but there us a consensus, and its one based very little most of the time.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
PeterFree
By PeterFree (9 months ago)

To understand what has happened here for this list of photographs to be 'valued' as they are one has to understand how the 'fine art' world in academia operates. Look at this quote from wikipedia's entry on Gursky:

In a 2001 retrospective, New York's Museum of Modern Art described the artist's work, "a sophisticated art of unembellished observation. It is thanks to the artfulness of Gursky's fictions that we recognize his world as our own."

What is an "unembellished observation" and what exactly is being implied in "It is thanks to the artfulness of Gursky's fictions that we recognize his world as our own"? The first is meaningless jargon, the kind that makes up the volumes of academic thesis' required from anyone wishing to enter the circle of the "we" and "our" referred to in the second sentence. But the true meaning of the second sentence is "only the truly wise can see" from The Emperors New Clothes.

2 upvotes
Peter Piper
By Peter Piper (9 months ago)

Great art provokes a visceral reaction in the viewer. A lot of those pics don't do it for me. The Cowboy and 99 Cent II are pleasing to my eye, and the Cindy Sherman pic is excellent IMO. The rest? I must be too much of a barbarian to know valuable art when I see it.

1 upvote
hemiola
By hemiola (9 months ago)

I'm really grateful I found this article.
I just had an epiphany: now I finally understand why I'll never be a true photographer, not even a semi-serious one!
That's because - in the words of old man Rooney - that's just "pretentious nonsense":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDlLh0jcJVY

I think I'll go back to shooting my sunsets, coastline, portraits and stay poor...

0 upvotes
tinternaut
By tinternaut (9 months ago)

Well, I was about to make a quip about the histogram on one of the photos, but thought better of it (knowing the DP forumtards, I may have been taken seriously).

Not one of those photos was shot digitally......

0 upvotes
Rick Knepper
By Rick Knepper (9 months ago)

A fool and his money...

6 upvotes
D1N0
By D1N0 (9 months ago)

There has to be more than one fool otherwise it would have been cheaper. It was probably bought as an investment.

0 upvotes
jdc562
By jdc562 (9 months ago)

All these images would deserve derisive critiques in today's photo forums. Nearly all these photos violate the Rule of Thirds. Cindy Sherman's shot #96 is mangled: one shoulder is cut into, the other arm is incomplete, and the top of of the girls' head is chopped off--very sloppy framing. Gursky's horizon in the L.A. shot isn't level. His Rhein II shot is soft. Both Steichen's and Prince's images have unacceptable levels of noise--they shouldn't bother us with their images until they've learned more about exposure, ISO, and photo processing. In addition, Prince's composition would have been much better if the cowboy were riding into the frame, not out of it. The images in the Gilbert & George piece are all too soft and badly exposed. I hope these photographers haven't quit their day jobs thinking they might have a future in photography.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (9 months ago)

I assume that you are kidding.

Should you not be, this would stand as a breathtaking example of reductive and problematic analysis. If so, all forums should be advised that these "rules" are only general compositional suggestions that have been used to aid photographers/artists in thinking about formal dynamics. Honestly, they are more of a elementary code, that can be ignored once more sophisticated visual methods can be employed. And, it should be stated, visual mechanics, unless viewed in a formal vacuum or serving purely formal work, should be evaluated in the context of service to concept (idea or message of the artist). Just have to put that out there in case you are being serious. And in any case, kids might be reading this, and I cannot have them read your analysis and go away thinking that that might be the criteria of good art.

1 upvote
b craw
By b craw (9 months ago)

Yikes, I am gullible. Still...think of the kids.

0 upvotes
Howard
By Howard (9 months ago)

<sarcasm on>

Hush, but they made a lot of money and you didn't! They went to the prestigious Art Institute of ***, how can these not be anything but art?! If you disagree then your brain is not developed enough to appreciate high art.

<sarcasm off>

1 upvote
bossa
By bossa (9 months ago)

There are no rules, only conventions, and when conventions govern the way you operate they become conditioned dogmas that suffocate all areas of life.

0 upvotes
bossa
By bossa (9 months ago)

On the contrary, #96 is a brilliant composition on every level.

It's not ALL about the girl because it's about form over the entire surface of the image and it's also about the fact that it's part of a greater narrative within the art community as well.

Art is about language and the way we explore it and it's about the art object as the subject of the work in itself and not what you would deem to be the usual.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Tom Nokin
By Tom Nokin (9 months ago)

May I suggest you organize a "How to shot better pics"workshop open only for super rich artist, who don't understand noise, rule of third, contrast and composition. You will be rich and famous instantly, when Tate Modern and MoMa wll throw out this mediocre stuff with 123 faults und plant their walls with your workshop pics. Please post your name, so we can start advertising.
Oh, by the way, did you notice that Mona Lisa is far to dark...underexposed so to say...:) at least Leonardo da Vinci understood noise:)

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 8 minutes after posting
1 upvote
jdc562
By jdc562 (9 months ago)

One of the problems in written posts is that sarcasm isn't always apparent. My comment is really about the mindless dogma typical of forum reviews and not about the 10 most expensive photos. I should have done what Howard did... <sarcasm on/off>

0 upvotes
jdc562
By jdc562 (9 months ago)

On second thought, I'm glad the replies bought into the ridiculousness of my parody, even though the last sentence of my post is totally contradictory to the subject of "most expensive photos"--and should have been a dead giveaway. It further demonstrates how willingness to go along with authoritative assertions subverts reason.

To B Craw: I AM thinking about the kids. My parody is directed at the mindless imposition of rules over freely expressed art in many forum comments. What could be more destructive to new minds? See the detrimental effects of imposition of dogma in any K through 12 art exhibition. Creativity and unfettered expression clearly declines with grade level. The creativity of the older kids is increasingly crippled as they progressively succumb to the dogmatic rules of how art should be done.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Poss
By Poss (9 months ago)

Oy vey! This whole "mini thread" was actually entertaining to go through... :-)

0 upvotes
lmtfa
By lmtfa (9 months ago)

The piece with the girl lying on the floor is in a way erotic, in a subtle way. You have to think about the message and their is one. She's lying down, holding a sheet of paper with what looks like a blank stare. For me it reminds me of a girl who got a letter from her boyfriend. She hasn't seen him for a long time and she is getting turned on. Notice the position of the hand and its closeness to her inner thigh. This was taken at the very start of the 80's so take that into your interpretation.

0 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (9 months ago)

The vast majority of Sherman's photos (dating back decades) are, in a literal structural sense, self portraits. But the concepts tend to address the media-driven archetypes of women - they are a play on the reductive qualities of this language, e.g., woman as victim, woman as naive lovelorn doe, woman as... In this way, she is not so much the inhabitant of the image.

Your cold read is perceptive.

2 upvotes
tabloid
By tabloid (9 months ago)

Its the name that counts....not the picture.

4 upvotes
Neloy Sinha
By Neloy Sinha (9 months ago)

First of all, now there is a quota of 1000 characters to describe my opinion.I am happy about it. Few of the photos are emotionally nostalgic.But most are good and simple in composition.I might think that I have missed so many near similar events or scenes in my life to become famous. But I have never switched on my camera at the right moment.

0 upvotes
pfzt
By pfzt (9 months ago)

"i could have done that, too!"

yeah, but you didn't ;)

4 upvotes
iaredatsun
By iaredatsun (9 months ago)

Only one of these photographs is actually by a photographer – and that one is pure historical artefact. It says a lot about photography.

0 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (9 months ago)

What are the necessary conditions that much be met to be deemed a "photographer"? Cindy Sherman has been a prominent photographer, and widely regarded as such, since her "Untitled Film Stills" in the late 1970's [you can actually see the bulb shutter release trailing from her body in some images]. Jeff Wall -- look up Vancouver School (photography movement). I could go on. But why? Your statement is asinine.

0 upvotes
mcshan
By mcshan (9 months ago)

Kim Kardashian could snap a photo and sell it for big money. If she did that some on this forum would refer to her as an artist no matter how mundane the photo.

7 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (9 months ago)

It is conceivable that some here would consider it art, although it would be highly unlikely that the wider art world would. Surely, you are not comparing a theoretical K.K. photo to the work of these well established artists. That would be ridiculous. I sense a wide cynicism, among many here, of what work is legitimized by the art world, academia, and the like. Fair enough. But, should you adopt this posture, you are best served rooting in some knowledge about art. Otherwise you are just being stubbornly foolish.

2 upvotes
Jeff Seltzer
By Jeff Seltzer (9 months ago)

Very well said...it's like some people here believe galleries, collectors, and museums are just stupid. If it was up to most here, galleries would primarily hang sunsets, cats, kids, and food shots.

3 upvotes
Howard
By Howard (9 months ago)

@Jeff: I think you completely missed his point.

3 upvotes
Jeff Seltzer
By Jeff Seltzer (9 months ago)

@Howard: b craw's point? Maybe. I thought the point is that it's silly to think K.K. can take a photo and that be considered art, because to be considered true fine art, the fine art world (museums, collectors, galleries, publications) need to validate it as such. My point is that those on this forum (you!) who just dismiss these images as "simple, anyone can take them..." are at the same time calling museums, collectors, galleries, and publication foolish. But, the reality is that YOU don't really understand what defines "fine art" photography. That's okay, though, it's a difficult concept. If you are truly interested, email me. I'm not trying to be antagonistic here.

1 upvote
mcshan
By mcshan (9 months ago)

@Howard. Bingo. You got it. Thank you.

1 upvote
rusticus
By rusticus (9 months ago)

I lived on the Rhine 33 years - now on the Baltic Sea -
if I had known that, with the photos from the Rhine. . .

0 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (9 months ago)

There is a complex litany of factors that result in work fetching these sums, one of which is the speculative investment market (which I will not comment on). But certainly to reach this level an image would have to been subject to a great deal of dialog with respect to its importance art historically as well as in the history of photography. These contextual considerations are key. It is not just the immediate visual impact of a work that makes it profound or resonate. There are rich rewards in understanding the arc of a photography/art career, and the very unique methodologies employed by most of these artists on this list. But even in a purely visual sense, most of these are very impressive when viewed as a print in a gallery or museum setting. Viewing a Gursky on the Internet is like listening to Bach on a cassette Walkman with only one earpiece. Both Gursky and Wall produce work worthy of the scale they are printed at - they are meticulously detailed and pains takingly constructed. If a elementary glance in a web article is the basis for evaluation then I can present no compelling argument to you. Gursky ignoring photographic rules (if you ask me, better termed dogma) in much of his work actually serves to compliment the rich detail and conceptual profundity of the work. Of course, we are all free to value what we want to value. Perhaps you crave immediate rewards and immediate demonstration of technical virtuosity; you may not get this is some of these works or other important work. And this is not just the case in contemporary work - consider Man Ray or Hannah Hoch, both very important photographers of the early twentieth century. It is entirely your perogative to value whatever you with to value. and you can certainly take issue with consensus art historical declarations - i do all the time as an instructor, and i encourage my students to be comfortable in doing tge same. the only thing i would ask of them and spme of you is that you do this respecting full contexts and always after informing yourself of them.

[as an aside, I do wish that some very important photo journalistic images were fetching something close to these sums. I am thinking primarily of earlier, and in some cases relatively scarce prints. But even less scarce work, such as that of Riis, I'd be pleased to see get greater recognition monetarily. But again, this is based largely on speculative markets and other factors not always reflecting the true aggregate value of the work.]

2 upvotes
TheDman
By TheDman (8 months ago)

"Both Gursky and Wall produce work worthy of the scale they are printed at - they are meticulously detailed and pains takingly constructed."

If only that were true, but even on the internet I can see bad cloning and stitching errors in Rhein II that tells me Gursky isn't even very good at Photoshop.

0 upvotes
DANdeMAN
By DANdeMAN (9 months ago)

I was going to say things but I don't like writing.
I feel like 'Untitled #96' by Cindy Sherman regarding this news.

Take a look at what "one of the most bankable 'art' photographers in the world" does. http://www.cindysherman.com/art.shtml

In conclusion: It could be you!

0 upvotes
Marksphoto
By Marksphoto (9 months ago)

Digital photos have no value these days because everyone can afford to buy a DSLR.

If you want your photos to have any value shoot film!

If I had a penny for every time a japanese tourist took a snapshot of our local Steam Clock in gastown, Vancouver I would be a millionaire. The tourists simply collect digital garbage to clutter their hard drives imho.

Sorry for all that negativity but when I travel I try not to photograph local tourist scenes because I can just download these off the net, delete, delete, delete. I need a new external hard drive for my wedding photographs is what I need...

0 upvotes
J Flavin
By J Flavin (9 months ago)

I thought this was a joke at first - but each to their own

7 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (9 months ago)

I'm not sure why but we (I mean everybody) have a need to rate things, to have an absolute best, #1, #2 and so on. With art, we also need to be told what's best lest we make uniformed decisions on our own.

Photography is really on an upswing, though. Wasn't that long ago that people wouldn't pay because one negative could produce an unlimited number of prints. The nice thing about a fair but not unimaginable price was that ordinary people could collect photographs and do so just because they liked them.

0 upvotes
J Flavin
By J Flavin (9 months ago)

''With art, we also need to be told what's best lest we make uniformed decisions on our own. ''
I disagree . art is very subjective - and surely it is up to us to have our own opinions - no matter what they be .

1 upvote
TheDman
By TheDman (8 months ago)

.

Comment edited 31 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
joe6pack
By joe6pack (9 months ago)

I wonder how much they will go for had them not been known to be taken by famous photographer.

Anyone heard of Robert Galbraith?

1 upvote
Tom Nokin
By Tom Nokin (9 months ago)

Here is a nice review of Gursky's Rhine II 1999 of the Tate Modern Collection from 2004.
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/gursky-the-rhine-ii-p78372/text-summary
Ignorance is pretentious.

3 upvotes
bossa
By bossa (9 months ago)

Thanks for the link.

0 upvotes
mcshan
By mcshan (9 months ago)

Drinking the kool aid is pretentious. It is accepted Gursky is good but that doesn't make THIS photo art or even a good shot..

Fame isn't everything. We have famous singers who make a lot of money who can't sing.

2 upvotes
bossa
By bossa (9 months ago)

Anything placed in a gallery IS art.. it just may not be good.

Perhaps you can inform me as to the making of a 'good shot'?

0 upvotes
Howard
By Howard (9 months ago)

For those of you who praise the "high art" in the "II" and other photographs -- did you honestly form your own opinion purely based on the artistic attributes of the photograph, not influenced by the prize tag and the fame of the artist?

We are all entitled to our opinions; some of us just cried "the emperor has no cloth".

8 upvotes
Tom Nokin
By Tom Nokin (9 months ago)

Howard, you have not clothes,... but that is ok. Just be cautious, some excentric rich guy's agent doesn't come by to buy you for the Tate Modern Collection. You would not like the sh...storm of your pears of mind...

2 upvotes
bossa
By bossa (9 months ago)

I've got a degree in Fine Art and I'd greatly appreciate it if you'd define the term "artistic attributes".

Art has always been created and presented in a context and without understanding the context/s it can be difficult to see what it's all about. But the *best* art also does not necessarily reference obvious, or standard, criteria either.

Most of the people posting negative and/or sarcastic comments here are advertising their lack of creative flexibility and perhaps their ignorance as well.

3 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (9 months ago)

Well articulated, bossa. I, too, would like to know what is meant by "artistic abributes". I think this might just be code for looking like what we expect art to look like, and perhaps providing immediate visual gradification via aesthetic conventions.

1 upvote
b craw
By b craw (9 months ago)

*"artistic attributes"

0 upvotes
Brian in Montana
By Brian in Montana (9 months ago)

I could spend an hour staring at Rhein II, soaking in the detail and being amazed by the colors. To try and extend the viewing though, I would have to burn another one and might end up doing the same thing to the back of my hand.

I paid $20 for a photograph by a local guy a couple of days ago. $20 is not a great sum to me, but it is to others, and they would question my sanity for spending the money. I like the photo, so I bought it and didn't have to "suffer" to do so. If it had been priced at $10K, I would have had to "suffer" a lot and so I would quickly have chosen not to purchase it. The degree to which a buyer must suffer to obtain a piece says more about the art than the price paid. Perhaps the $4.3 million was chump change to the buyer of Rhein II. Maybe that means it is no better than my $20 "moon in the trees" shot? BTW the back of my hand has better detail and more megapixels than any photograph...just sayin'.

3 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (9 months ago)

I would have guessed Eggleston or maybe Joel Peter Witkin. Those are the type of shots I'd like to have in my living room. As for this Rhein II, it's ok but it could use some HDR to knock down the contrast. Just my opinion, of course.

0 upvotes
Tom Nokin
By Tom Nokin (9 months ago)

Here is a nice review of Gursky's Rhine II 1999 of the Tate Modern Collection from 2004.
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/gursky-the-rhine-ii-p78372/text-summary

2 upvotes
Tom Nokin
By Tom Nokin (9 months ago)

Andreas Gursky is a true artist, by any standard.
Check out the workmanship on the
http://www.c4gallery.com/artist/database/andreas-gursky/gursky-paris-montparnasse-large-print.jpg
Also
http://forums.thecarlounge.com/showthread.php?4742421
http://images.artnet.com/artwork_images/424045384/762548.jpg
For those, who want to know about Gursky
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andreas_Gursky

2 upvotes
Davidgilmour
By Davidgilmour (9 months ago)

So the guy has an eye for straight lines. I am not impressed.

3 upvotes
Tom_A
By Tom_A (9 months ago)

Well David, showus your pictures then.
I saw a number of Gursky's photos in museums and I was impressed. They feel nearly abstract, in a very precise way.
It doesn't surprise me that he is seen at the cutting edge of photography.

1 upvote
Tom Nokin
By Tom Nokin (9 months ago)

Andreas Gursky graduated from the well known Düsseldorf Art Academy, member of the Becher-Class. One of the most acclaimed modern painter, Gerhard Richter, is also from the same institution. Many others are well recognized artists. I mentioned this, as an argument, that there is an established recognition by a wide and disperse audience, critics, culture scene and most importantly innumerous visitors of their famous exhibitions, that all of this is fine art.
You don't have to particularly like a certain photo of Gursky. Also it is not important whether a photo is difficult to take. It is the idea, the message, the concept, the meaning…
Also, all of Gursky's photos are meticulously crafted stagings. That does not show at first glance, because they look so "simple" but they are not. All of them are rather complex, upon close inspection.
Also much of their impression and effect comes from their huge formats. Which of course comes not across on a website.
Check out the workmanship on the

7 upvotes
RBrashear
By RBrashear (9 months ago)

http://www.buzzfeed.com/expresident/most-powerful-photographs-ever-taken

..and how much for these?!

1 upvote
mister_roboto
By mister_roboto (9 months ago)

Apparently Rhein II is up there with Adobe pricing, and anything to do with µ4/3 that get s the cranky-blood flowing in the comments.

Comment edited 14 seconds after posting
1 upvote
budi0251
By budi0251 (9 months ago)

Since Rhein II receives most interest, i'd say that you (and I) need to read the fine print between the lines about that very expensive one.
It's said that Rhein II "print" which is sold the most expensive, not the original jpg/psd image file.
I suppose the company that made the print has done a great job with colors accuracy, fidelity, exotic materials, pigments, frame, marketing, etc.
Could be very life like with high resolution image; coupled that with the right time at the right place at the right moment of someone with significant amount of money with God-knows what's in his/her heart intent to bought this.

While Gursky himself is credited as the photog, i suppose he receives 2nd least amount of the money from that sale.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Howard
By Howard (9 months ago)

I have no issue with the Rhein II, I just think it should be more appropriately titled "Blah".

8 upvotes
Jeff Seltzer
By Jeff Seltzer (9 months ago)

Well, it's no surprise to read the chorus of "I could do that!" and "This is art??" and "What a bunch of crap!" It's amazing to me you people (yeah, I said it...you people) who come to PHOTOGRAPHY FORUM can not understand and appreciate some of the greatest photographers of all time! Do you even know anything about Gursky?? Have you seen any of his works in-person? Looked at any of his dozens of books?? What you seem to NOT understand is that fine art photography is not about one image, but a body of work, and the importance of that work in the overall medium. You people are the same who walk into a museum, and say "what's with the abstract painting?? It looks like a kid did that!"

Sorry to say, but your images of cats, sunsets, and kids are NOT hanging in museums or on the walls of collectors for a reason. Instead of quickly judging single images, try to do a little research on WHY these images are so sought after.

9 upvotes
Howard
By Howard (9 months ago)

So share your understanding with us, Mr. Smarty.

8 upvotes
Jeff Seltzer
By Jeff Seltzer (9 months ago)

Somehow, based on your sarcasm, my sense is that you really don't want to engage in a conversation about why Gursky is so important. Try Google.

2 upvotes
tmarek
By tmarek (9 months ago)

Very direct and very true...

Have a great day, t

0 upvotes
Davidgilmour
By Davidgilmour (9 months ago)

But truth is, anything that is in a modern art museum CAN be done by kids. The only thing that kids can't do is sell the emperor's clothes like these frauds can.

7 upvotes
Tom_A
By Tom_A (9 months ago)

David, no, Kids can't do it because they didn't do it.
It is not because it looks simple that it is simple.
And indeed there are a good number of "me too" type of self-called artists that try something abstract (in any medium), without the talent. They do not end up in museums.

1 upvote
TheDman
By TheDman (8 months ago)

Nobody is 'important'. Using words like that are just the ways art collectors with more money than sense and fine art majors/baristas attempt to prove why collecting art or going to art school makes their taste more advanced than yours.

0 upvotes
TheDman
By TheDman (8 months ago)

"David, no, Kids can't do it because they didn't do it."

Yes, they did do it. It's just nobody cared.

1 upvote
dstate1
By dstate1 (9 months ago)

These could only be taken by the Hasselblad Lunar.

3 upvotes
Tom Nokin
By Tom Nokin (9 months ago)

Hasselblad is not badto start with, but film, scan, processing...

0 upvotes
whtchocla7e
By whtchocla7e (9 months ago)

The photographs are not ugly, boring or overrated. Your minds just aren't yet developed enough to appreciate them.

1 upvote
jtan163
By jtan163 (9 months ago)

Not agreeing is not the same as not understanding.
Not all minds are developed enough to understand that.

3 upvotes
mcshan
By mcshan (9 months ago)

There are also people who refuse to be led by the nose and told what art is.

1 upvote
KentG
By KentG (9 months ago)

And there are those who would not know art if it came up and smacked them on the side of the head.

1 upvote
57even
By 57even (9 months ago)

There's generally nothing more amusing on the average afternoon than reading the Dpreview pundits' opinions on art.

Modern classical music and jazz are considerably less "popular" than pop music and they are much harder to understand, but does that make them rubbish? Is popularity the only arbiter?

1 upvote
clicstudio
By clicstudio (9 months ago)

I understand billy the kid.An original that cannot be reproduced, ever. The rest are junk IMHO...

7 upvotes
renault5
By renault5 (9 months ago)

"This painting here? I bought it ten years ago for sixty thousand dollars, I could sell it today for six hundred (thousand). The illusion has become real, and the more real it becomes, the more desperately they want it. Capitalism at its finest."

Gordon Gekko

1 upvote
peevee1
By peevee1 (9 months ago)

Just shows you that inheritance taxes should be raised dramatically.

1 upvote
Abbas Rafey
By Abbas Rafey (9 months ago)

If I have shoot these I would have delet them right away. Dear all you are all photographers artist thats why we have same opinion. Others that try to find excuse they are respecting names and not the shots which they are totally meaningless. Keep in mind that they are good salesman network to the party that's why they have been ranked high and not that's they have done great shot.

If this called photography then execus me to quit it as I feel it is end of photography history

My appology to all that's my opinion.

8 upvotes
KentG
By KentG (9 months ago)

Your correct you should quit. Seriously compared to fine art photography most of the rest are done by hacks not artists. I know because I consider myself more of a hack which is what most of the photography I have done over 45 years is, which is made up mostly of motorsports and sports. My brother who is a pro actually has photographic art books and has pieces hanging in photographic art institutes. Myself I know what art looks like but that does not mean I can do it. And I agree there is lots of "art" I don't like, that does not mean it is not art. And saying kids with DSLRs is like saying 1000 monkeys in front of 1000 typewriters could eventually produce all the books ever written.
We are at best technicians who understand our tools. But like painting knowing everything about paints and brushes does not mean we can paint the Mona Lisa. Technicians are not artists, and certainly never will be. Most of the opinions here prove my point.

1 upvote
b craw
By b craw (9 months ago)

@KentG, I have to say that with 45 years of technical experience and having any degree of the recoil and punch delivered in this most unique commentary, I'd be very curious to see the ART you're capable of.

0 upvotes
John Siward
By John Siward (9 months ago)

The Steichen shines out amongst the rest; Cindy Sherman kinda interests me; Gilbert and George, well... I stepped in some once...

2 upvotes
Jahled
By Jahled (9 months ago)

Wow, talk about 'eye of the beholder.' I'm very happy for the photographers who made such ludicrous amounts of money for completely mediocre junk, I really am. But that's more of a list of human stupidity than anything else

8 upvotes
Tom Nokin
By Tom Nokin (9 months ago)

Why don't you get rich by selling some completely mediocre junk to some rich people by yourself? There should be a river, a street, a house, or something close, where you live. Because you can't, and because you know this, you post such nonsense.
Take pics of you cat and be happy.

2 upvotes
Juraj Lacko
By Juraj Lacko (9 months ago)

Everything is worth so much one will pay for it. I this case there was someone rich enough to buy this pics at this price.

2 upvotes
tompabes2
By tompabes2 (9 months ago)

I can't understand... Rhein II in my opinion is worth NOTHING, it's something anyone could have done in 1999, and it's probably something many of you have done (including myself)... you just have to remember the works that Franco Fontana did in the 60s/70s!

3 upvotes
Tom Nokin
By Tom Nokin (9 months ago)

Why don't you get rich by selling some of the pics you took in 1999 and accidentally forgot to delete to some rich people by yourself? Rich people are not stupid because they are rich and buy art. Most likely rich people are smarter on average. Because you can't, and because you know this, you post such nonsense.

2 upvotes
Tape5
By Tape5 (9 months ago)

They all have one element in common.

They are all artfully overrated.

8 upvotes
Armando13
By Armando13 (9 months ago)

Let this be a lesson to all the obsessed, pixel peepers out there. It's more about who you are and what you photograph rather than the sharpness and iso performance of your equipment.

5 upvotes
Davidgilmour
By Davidgilmour (9 months ago)

No, it's more about who you can trick by pretending this to be art...

2 upvotes
KentG
By KentG (9 months ago)

There speaks one who will never be an artist (or me either). But at least I can tell what art is and how it is made. Most are clueless and that is why nothing they do will ever endure.

0 upvotes
lmtfa
By lmtfa (9 months ago)

No trees to hide behind to take a leak, no dogs jumping in the river to retrieve a branch, no kids chucking their empty plastic juice bottles in the water, no humans sitting on a blanket holding hands. That alone makes it worth 4 million.

All the above was PS'd out, I guess?

3 upvotes
Tom Nokin
By Tom Nokin (9 months ago)

You are getting closer. Analyse the structure, the concept, the impression, study Gursky's work and meaning and ... you will get there, someday, ...

1 upvote
bossa
By bossa (9 months ago)

Yes, it's a fantastic photograph. It seems to be a picture of the universality of nature... ..an ethereal field of creative energy.

It reminds me of Rothko and absorbs me in a peaceful meditative state.

0 upvotes
StyleZ7
By StyleZ7 (9 months ago)

I am starting to recover my deleted boring pictures and sell them, gonna be rich :P

12 upvotes
Tom Nokin
By Tom Nokin (9 months ago)

Why don't you get rich by selling some completely mediocre junk to some rich people by yourself? There should be a river, a street, a house, or something close, where you live. Because you can't, and because you know this, you post such nonsense.

4 upvotes
bossa
By bossa (9 months ago)

You don't seem to appreciate that a photograph can be a good photograph no matter the subject. The fact that you find these photographs as boring and dismiss the artists as fakers is typical of the way lay people have responded to Art practitioners since the days of modernism began. Artists deal primarily in language and not necessarily in what you would refer to as traditional "subject" because it's the actual painting or photograph that is the subject.

Comment edited 29 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
KentG
By KentG (9 months ago)

Ditto.

0 upvotes
vFunct
By vFunct (9 months ago)

ALL of these images are so much better than anything on that disgusting 500px site.

1 upvote
CFynn
By CFynn (9 months ago)

It helps to be represented by a big NY art dealer and/or have your works bought by a major collector and lauded by a well known critic or two. There are a handful of people like this who largely seem to determine what is "important" and valuable in the art market.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
Tom Nokin
By Tom Nokin (9 months ago)

why don't you go to a big NY art dealer with your hard drive of pics and get them represent your work, get some favorable reviews, bribe someone big to laud your "art".... because you know such stupid ideas dont't work in twenty years for you, they only work in a forum like this with couch potatos mesmerized by there latest hawaian sunset on the wall.

1 upvote
Total comments: 247
12