£2.7m For A Photograph? Gursky Does It Again
“Rhein II”, a glass-mounted photograph (from an edition of six works) by Andreas Gursky has fetched £2.7m ($4.3m) at Christies in New York. This lifts the title of “most expensive photograph” from Cindy Sherman’s “Untitled #96” which struggled to sell for a paltry $3,890,500 at the same auction house back in May 2011.
So what exactly is it that gives this image it’s immense value? Gursky’s work is often large scale, too big to hang above the average domestic mantelpiece, so one can only assume its value lies less in its inherent artistic merits (Gursky is no stranger to criticism of his work on the grounds of mundanity) and more, like other art forms, in it’s investment potential.
Gursky’s held the title before – for “99 Cent II Diptychon” which sold at Sotheby’s, London in February 2007 for $$3,346,456. Other prints of it sold for $2.25m in 2006, and $2.48m later in the same year so it would seem that at a time when various world currencies are on their knees, art, like gold, is a good place to put your (or your company’s) cash.
Other photographs in the “most expensive” list include a tin-type image of Billy The Kid, considered to be the only genuine likeness of that icon of the Wild West, which fetched $2.3m earlier this year. In that case, the image (by an anonymous photographer) is entirely unique and of some historic importance, which might go some way to explaining it’s high price.
But can the same be said of Gursky’s work? Or Sherman’s?
What do you think about this? What is it that puts this image in a different financial league to even the work of his most acclaimed contemporaries?
The BBC’s piece about the Gursky: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-15689652
A list of most expensive photographs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_photographs