Rhein II, one in a series of six photographs by German artist, Andras Gursky sold for a staggering $4.3 million at Christie’s, New York this week. Though not particularly ‘pretty’ the picture, depicting a river cutting through a landscape, is interesting. I guess I would describe it as a compositional study of line, space and colour with strong melancholic overtones. While it hovers between landscape and abstract painting, maybe even Romanticism and realism – is a photograph really worth such a large chunk of change?
Well, obviously this if proof that it is! And I suppose this also proves that photography is no longer panting and sculpture’s red-headed stepchild but is instead an equally strong competitor in the realm of Fine Art.
Or is it?
Would this scene be more unique if it were a painting? I mean can’t anyone (okay, not anyone but any professional photographer) with a camera photograph this particular location [and subsequently digitally manipulate it]?
Is this merely a boring landscape with little photographic quality in terms of its subject matter or technical prowess required to create it onto which ‘experts’ have attached meaning so as to enhance its commercial value? And lastly, the fact that Gursky’s name is attached to it – that surely changes everything, doesn’t it?
The ArtSmack here goes to the buyer – and the art market at large – not the artist, to be clear.
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