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Thread: Most expensive photographs

  1. #1

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    Most expensive photographs

    The prices are crazy. Judging by the photos, perhaps you have one better that is worth more. One photographer taking selfies even suckered someone for two. I need to find these people with money to burn.

    http://www.photographytalk.com/photo...aphs-ever-sold

  2. #2

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    Re: Most expensive photographs

    I would submit Andrew that, were you to submit those images, unsigned, to most modern C&C websites, they would be torn asunder.

  3. #3
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Most expensive photographs

    Quote Originally Posted by chauncey View Post
    I would submit Andrew that, were you to submit those images, unsigned, to most modern C&C websites, they would be torn asunder.
    Quoted for truth.

    Some of those images are genuinely good, or significant enough that I can understand their cost. Reine II? Not so much.

    But we've covered this before on CiC. I don't think anyone really understands buyers' motivations and the nature of the fine art photography world. Seems like, at a certain level, you're trading in fame rather than skill.

  4. #4
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Most expensive photographs

    Frankly, I suspect in a number of cases, the value of the work comes more from owning an original photograph that was done by a well known photographer.

    I think Lex has hit the nail on the head with his comment about how many of these works would be picked apart on most photo websites.

    I also feel that there is a bit of a "fashion" as to what photographers are "in". I remember being really impressed by the work of the Austrian photographer, Ernst Hass when I first got into photography. He was one of the pioneers of colour photography, but when we look at some of his work today, much of it seems quaint and trite.

    http://www.ernst-haas.com/

  5. #5
    gaijin's Avatar
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    Re: Most expensive photographs

    First of all the selling prices of works of art has nothing to do with artistic merit. Secondly all the 19 photos are photos by artists (i.e. not just takers of photos) who created an opus, an oeuvre. Their photos have value because of all the other photos they took or created and because there are wealthy people who have enough money to spare to buy them, usually as an investment.

    For instance, I wouldn't say that anyone would call Cindy Sherman a photographer, judging by the photos of hers that I remember having seen - she's an artist who happens to use photography and not paint or electric light bulbs.

    Personally, I'd really like to have Rhein II in my home. Not having $5M to spare that's unlikely to happen. I'd happily have one of these Malevitch white on whites or black on blacks in my home too. I also came across some very minimalist photos by Hiroshi Sugimoto that I like a lot. I haven't enough money to buy one of them either.

    Anyway, taking photos is not a competition, unless you're trying to sell your work, in which case you just need to do what they did - take lots of photos, make a name for yourself, and hope some people with money will buy your work and drive up your market value. It's a bit like Internet companies, isn't it?

    Most expensive photographs

  6. #6

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    Re: Most expensive photographs

    Having been at some art auctions I can tell you the outlandish price for some works does come from what's in fashion or fame from some previous work. Many poor examples that are sold with higher than expected sums for exactly those reasons. Another reason for the inflated values of some, either through building a reputation on past works or just coming on the scene, is who is buying the product. Husbands, boyfriends, grandparents and anonymous benefactors elevate the price to make their loved ones feel good about themselves. On the other hand, there are lots of 1%'rs who just have more money than they can get rid of. The self-important artsy types just love those people.

  7. #7
    Andrew76's Avatar
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    Re: Most expensive photographs

    I got to see #19 this past Sunday in person! I had no idea I was looking at that much $$.

  8. #8

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    Re: Most expensive photographs

    In addition to what others have said, many photographs cost a lot due to their historical significance and/or the few number of known copies. The fifth one by Steichen (though I believe that one is also unbelievably beautiful) and the extraordinarily rare photo of Billy the Kid are examples.

    The seedy business side of fine art also comes into play when determining the monetary value of photographs. When curators pay a lot of money for a particular piece, they typically spend the rest of their life promoting that style of photography, that photographer, etc. That's because it's important to the curators that the works that they have purchased maintain or grow their value over time. Their reputation and their own ability to make money depend on it. Otherwise, entire collections owned by private collectors, museums and galleries could eventually become relatively worthless.

    Perhaps more to the point of outrageously large sums of money being spent on a photograph, I remember an extensive review in the newspaper of a private collection that was being temporarily displayed in a public museum. The review began with the observation that though lots of people have enormous amounts of money, very few people have enormous amounts of both money and good taste.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 12th September 2013 at 10:23 AM.

  9. #9
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Most expensive photographs

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    The review began with the observation that though lots of people have enormous amounts of money, very few people have enormous amounts of both money and good taste.
    And that does not just apply to photographs. I had exactly the same thought when we worked our way through the famed Uffizi Museum in Florence, Italy. The heart of the collection were pieces (mostly paintings) commisioned or collected by the enormously wealthy Medici family. There were a number of real gems in the collection, but the majority of the works had this quantity rather than quality feel about them.

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