Look at this photograph closely. It’s called Rhein II byAndreas Gursky. Now, guess how much it’s worth or rather, what someone paid forit in an auction?
The actual number is $4.3 million, or €3.2 million. Now payingthat amount FOR A F**KING PHOTOGRAPH is crass enough. But to add insult toinjury, it’s not exactly eye-catching or heartbreaking or executed withextraordinary skill. It is big—80×140 inches, but they say size doesn’t matter. My first impression wasthat it has very strong lines but it’s still only a picture of a river on adull day. It is, allegedly, the photographer’s favourite photo and “an allegorical pictureabout the meaning of life and how things are”. I think it shouldhave been called The emperor’s new clothes.
Florence Waters in The Daily Telegraph said “his image is a vibrant,beautiful and memorable – I should say unforgettable – contemporary twist on
’s famed genre andfavourite theme: the romantic landscape, and man’s relationship with nature”. Really?!Maeve Kennedy in The Guardian said it was a “sludgy image of desolate, featureless landscape”.Guess which one I agree with? Germany
It has ousted the previous record holder, Cindy Sherman’s Untitled#96, which sold for $3.89 million price point last May. I think this photograph is 10 timesmore appealing…still not €2.3 million good, but slightly better.
It reminded me of when I saw the painting,
White Center, by Mark Rothko. It was besidea news item explaining how the painting had been sold for $73 million (€55million). Granted, it’s contemporary, simple and colourful. I like Rothko’swork but is it €55 million good?!
Incidentally, the world’s most expensive painting at the minute is called No. 5, 1948 by Jackson Pollock and it set some crazy art lover back $140 million, or a cool €105 million smackers. Any painting by Pollock is sought after and he has some fine work. I like his frenetic and vibrant style BUT on the other hand, if I didn’t know the artist and you told me a five year old had painted this, I’d have believed you. You’re essentially paying over €100 million for an autograph.
It’s hard to put a monetary value on art and hard to quantify an individual emotional reaction to a piece of art. But there’s a global recession on, for everyone except art dealers ha ha. I can’t help thinking €3.2 million would go a long way toward oh, around 3.2 million things A LOT more meaningful than a photograph. It’s like Nero fiddling while (a photograph of)
PS: If you like photographs, Time Magazine released its Top 10 Photos of the Year here.