But it’s ‘only’ a photograph
I’ve heard one or two snarky comments like that. Not, luckily about our own work. But it seems that there are still some people who don’t regard photography as ‘real art’. I don’t know why this is. Is it because each and every one of us can take photographs? But each and every one of us can dabble about with oils on canvas too.
I don’t know why I’ve never done this before, but I just looked to find out about the most expensive photograph ever sold. Here’s what Wikipedia had to say:
‘Rhein II’ is a photograph made by German visual artist Andreas Gursky in 1999. In 2011, a print was auctioned for $4.3 million (then £2.7m), making it the most expensive photograph ever sold.
The photograph was produced as the second (and largest) of a set of six depicting the River Rhine. In the image, the Rhine flows horizontally across the field of view, between green fields, under an overcast sky.
Extraneous details such as dog-walkers and a factory building were removed by the artist via digital editing. Justifying this manipulation of the image, Gursky said “Paradoxically, this view of the Rhine cannot be obtained in situ, a fictitious construction was required to provide an accurate image of a modern river.” The work has been described by arts writer Florence Waters in The Daily Telegraph as a “vibrant, beautiful and memorable – I should say unforgettable – contemporary twist on the romantic landscape”
Actually, although it’s quite something to see that such a huge amount of money was paid for ‘only’ a photograph, I’m surprised at the part about digital editing. As you know, our images are sometimes editied but always on the cellphone, always within a few seconds of the photograph being taken and always with the photographed scene right there. Here (thank you Wikipedia) is a list of the runners-up:
- Cindy Sherman, Untitled #96 (1981), $3,890,500, May 2011, Christie’s New York. A seventh print of Untitled #96 sold for $2.88 million at Christie’s in May 2012.
- Jeff Wall, Dead Troops Talk (A vision after an ambush of a Red Army patrol, near Moqor, Afghanistan, winter 1986) (1992), $3,666,500, May 8, 2012, Christie’s New York.
- Andreas Gursky, 99 Cent II Diptychon (2001), $3,346,456, February 2007, Sotheby’s London auction. A second print of 99 Cent II Diptychon sold for $2.48 million in November 2006 at a New York gallery, and a third print sold for $2.25 million at Sotheby’s in May 2006.
- Edward Steichen, The Pond-Moonlight (1904), $2,928,000, February 2006, Sotheby’s New York auction.
- Cindy Sherman, Untitled #153 (1985), $2,700,000, November 2010, Phillips de Pury & Co. New York.
- Unknown photographer, Billy the Kid (1879–80), tintype portrait, $2,300,000, June 2011, Brian Lebel’s Old West Show & Auction.
- Dmitry Medvedev, Tobolsk Kremlin (2009), $1,750,000, January 2010, Christmas Yarmarka, Saint Petersburg.
- Edward Weston, Nude (1925), $1,609,000, April 2008, Sotheby’s New York auction.
- Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe (Hands) (1919), $1,470,000, February 2006, Sotheby’s New York auction.
- Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe Nude (1919), $1,360,000, February 2006, Sotheby’s New York auction.
- Richard Prince, Untitled (Cowboy) (1989), $1,248,000, November 2005, Christie’s New York auction.
- Richard Avedon, Dovima with elephants (1955), $1,151,976, November 2010, Christie’s Paris auction.
- Edward Weston, Nautilus (1927), $1,082,500, April 2010, Sotheby’s New York auction.
- Peter Lik, One (2010), $1,000,000, December 2010, Anonymous Collector
- Jeff Wall, Untangling(1994), $1 Million AUD, 2006.
- Eugène Atget, Joueur d’Orgue, (1898–1899), $686,500, April 2010, Christie’s New York auction.
- Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol (1987), $643,200, October 17, 2006, Christie’s New York auction.
- Ansel Adams, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico (1948),  $609,600, 2006, Sotheby’s New York auction
I searched for one of the above to post here. Of course, there are copyright restrictions on most of them. The first one I came across that had no copyright nearly knocked my socks off when I saw it. It is Edward Steichen, The Pond-Moonlight . Whose work does this remind you of?