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$4.3 Million Photo


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I found myself taking your guys side of this issue on a professional photographers forum over the last few weeks.. and of course I was pummeled pretty well by the knowledgeable art crowd.

I still stand by my take on this photography but through this thread there were some good points made.

a. Gursky is a talented photographer and those who have seen his works in person universally agree they're very good. They also agree his work needs to be seen at the size he prints it to fully appreciate the composition. I would agree with both points, the guy is really good and a good photographer does compose the image to be presented at a certain size/range.

b. The "value" of art is set by more than just a single image. Past works, reputation, periods in their development, death, if it's being sold for charity, many things can affect the price. Still seems silly high to me but what do I know..

c. Supposedly the compositional elements are very hard to achieve. Perhaps. But I've studied THIS image quite a bit and I don't agree.

d. It's immaterial if you, or your five year old pet parrot, could have taken the same photograph. There are too many external and internal variables where this just doesn't matter.

My original comment was that THIS image looks like something my wife would delete from her point and shoot compact. I stand by that, but I think she'd take issue with that statement. She's really a better photographer. Gursky IS a very good photographer. I just don't see this particular image as compelling in any way except one. It's created a lot of buzz and discussion about art, what defines art, how to value art, and many other variables. Considering the amount of people who have participated, or even read, this controversy.. I'd say 4.3 million is cheap education when you consider the numbers. Let's say 25 million (a conservative number I think) have viewed this image, read the chaff concerning those who take issue or support the work, and do the math.. a bit more than 25 cents per person to learn all I've learned.. is dirt cheap. More than a bargain.

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from the real OP: I actually don't have a 5 year old daughter - it's a figment of speech. I do have a 35 year old daughter though, and she does better than take bland photos, she actually breeds thousands of fruit trees - which have a tangible benefit for people.

Incidentally, I did some more thinking about Jackson Pollack, and am thinking perhaps he was underrated by the likes of me. I'd like to see the movie about him. I don't know if Pollack was thinking this when he splattered paint on canvases, but his type of art is different from other prior types (besides the obvious reasons). Here's why:

>>>> he didn't paint patterns. Think about it, most art is stuck with a motif that's repeated, in other words; patterns. Certainly true of nearly all architecture.

>>>> he didn't paint fill in the blanks. Nearly all artworks involve an outline which is filled with color, either flat or shaded color. Certainly much of Picasso's and Warhol's stuff was like that. But even the classical masterpieces were often made from tasteful slabs of color.

Pollack, like him or not, was possibly the first well-known painter to stray from those two painting methods mentioned above.

Good on all the folks who like Picasso. And yes I'm aware he was able to paint realistic renditions of people and things. Even so, I don't care for his stuff. Just my opinion. His contemporary (from 120 miles away), Salvidor Dali, is a different story altogether - true genius.

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Majic said:

Agreed: a Genius,

Never mind,even if his Surrealist work was often drug induced,for inspiration!

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Edit: Some problem with the quotes here,no idea what though?

Edited by MAJIC
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I know nothing about this artist and was baffled as to why it commanded such a high price but after reading about it I can see that financially it was probably worth the money as such art will continue to appreciate (whatever one thinks of the art itself). Artistically, I think it's valuable because it was taken at a time when photography was still in the process of being accepted as a real art-form, so it looks simple but really took a lot of planning and skill to pull off which made it all the more daring.

Thanks to the OP for the though-provoking post, it certainly prompted me to broaden my horizons.

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I agree that art items, like real estate and gems and stocks, are only as valuable as they can sell for. I admire the photographer in the sense that he can get such large amounts of money for a few photos (an earlier photo of his, of a convenience store display of its items for sale, was a prior record setter for highest price).

A couple years ago, a cold grilled cheese sandwich sold for a high price on E-bay, because it's shadings appeared to show a likeness of the Virgin Mary's face - so pretty much anything is sell-able in these odd times.

On the other end of the spectrum, there was the largest state in the USA which sold for $7.2 million.

In today's dollars, that's $113 million (28 cents per acre or 11 cents a rai). Comparing sale prices, the entire state of Alaska is worth 26 such photos.

Edited by maidu
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