Photography has long been an art. Only in this case it is difficult to say that the price is determined by quality.
It is impossible for mere mortals to understand why some beautiful art objects cost millions. This approach works in all areas of art, and photography is no exception here. We will tell below about the most expensive pictures in history, trying to understand what caused their price.
Rhine II, Andreas Gursky. This German photographer was born in Leipzig in 1955. But at this time he lives and works in Dusseldorf. Gursky began studying photography as a child with his father, an advertising photographer. In 1981-1987 Andreas studied at the State Academy of Arts in Dusseldorf. His teachers were the married couple Bernd and Hilla Becher, famous all over the world. The couple received the Hasselblad Award in 2004. Since 1985, Gursky himself began to actively participate in group exhibitions, he soon became famous and began to arrange personal exhibitions of his works. Photos of the German began to be shown in the world's most important centers of contemporary art.
Andreas Gursky is widely known for his large panoramic photographs taken from a dais. In the late 1990s, the master began to use computer photo editors, reaching with their help even greater depth of detail in his paintings. In 1999, Gursky took six photographs of the Rhine, one of the largest rivers in Europe. The photographic canvases were 185 by 363 cm. As a result, the "Rhine II" image became the most expensive in the world. Digital post-processing made it possible to remove passers-by and buildings from the image. This photograph was exhibited on November 8, 2011 at Christie’s New York's Impressionism and Contemporary Art auction. It was believed that the work could be sold for about $ 2.5-3.5 million. As a result, the final price turned out to be much higher - $ 4,338,500. The buyer preferred to keep the unknown.
Some people compare "Rhine II" with Malevich's "Black Square" - not everyone understands such art. The high price, however, can be explained. It is important that Gursky was able to capture the Rhine in its original form, albeit in post-processing it was not possible to remove the asphalt path. In such a form as the river is shown in the photo, it has not existed for a long time. After all, the flat terrain is either built up by humans, or simply overgrown with plants. It is important to note the compositional structure of the picture. It is executed in a classical style using rhythmic construction. All lines here are related to each other on a scale of 1: 4. This makes it easier for the viewer to perceive both the colors and the rather big photo as a whole. Some see Rhine II as a hidden meaning. Photography seems to contrast heaven and earth. It's hard to understand what the photographer really wanted to tell us. From the point of view of philosophy, you can see our life in the picture. The combination of light and colored stripes show our way on Earth, and the light and wide heavenly stripe is the spiritual that is always with us and above the mundane.
"Untitled. No. 96", Cindy Sherman. Cindy was born on January 19, 1954 in New Jersey, eventually moving with her family to Huntington, New York. A woman has always been interested in art, which is why she entered the Buffalo College of Fine Arts. There, Sherman realized that drawing did not give her the opportunity to express herself, as a result, she became involved in photography.
The first series of Untitled AE was taken by Cindy in college, a year before graduation. At the same time, the photographer himself acted as the model, who believed that only she could portray what was conceived. In her project, Sherman appeared in five different images at once. I must say that the photo story she told did not find recognition from critics.
But the series "Untitled Film Stills", created in 1977-1980, made Sherman famous. In this story, there were 69 black and white photographs that looked like still frames from a film strip. This enabled viewers to see something familiar in these images. Since 1995, Sherman's work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The artist has received such prestigious awards as National Endowment for the Arts, Skowhegan Medal for Photography, The Hasselblad Foundation. Exhibitions of Sidney Sherman's works are held all over the world, making her work even more recognizable and popular. She refuses to consider herself a photographer, calling herself a performance artist. Until now, Sherman poses for his photographs. Only in the sensational series "Sexy Pictures" Cindy took off the dolls together. The poses of the toys were so overt that they resembled pornographic.
And the most famous work of the artist is "Untitled No. 96". This color photograph was included in the Models series and was taken in 1981. The photo is the second most expensive in history, because in May 2011 an unknown person bought it at Christie’s auction for $ 3.89 million. Although the image cannot boast of a rich composition, it has a rather deep meaning. Sherman portrays a teenage girl here, both innocent and seductive. The photo shows how the female essence strives to jump out. After all, the girl is holding in her hands a piece of newspaper with an announcement about finding a partner.
Cowboy by Richard Prince. This modern American photo artist was born on August 6, 1949. He managed to become one of the iconic masters in his art. Fame was brought to Prince in the 1980s by his famous series Cowboys, Jokes and Hoods. There, the artist used popular imagery from magazines, pop culture and even low-quality reading material that address issues of the consumer world and American identity. The main thing in Prince's art was immersion in the world of mass culture and at the same time criticism of this space.
Often Richard took up topics close to the concept of the American way of life. They could be biker gangs, celebrities, cowboys. He reproduced and remade these popular motives, focusing the viewer's attention on the dark side of society.
Prince's most famous work was done for a Marlboro cigarette advertising poster in 1989. The original was sold in New York at Sotheby's on November 14, 2007 for $ 3.4 million. In this case, we are talking about a cowboy, not as a classic standard of courage and the American Wild West, naive westerns, but as a new sex symbol.
"99 Cents" by Andreas Gursky. An artist already known to us was able to sell his diptych in February 2007 for $ 3,346,456. The price was much higher than what was indicated as the title of the work. The second print of the photo was sold earlier, in November 2006, for 2.48 million. She went to a gallery in New York. The third cost the new owner $ 2.25 million, the deal was held at Sotheby’s auction in May 2006. At the same time, the variants of the diptych still differ in their angles. The owner of the first and most expensive print was the Ukrainian businessman and philanthropist Viktor Pinchuk. A diptych is rightfully considered an object of contemporary art, its cost largely depends on the author and the size of the print. The photo itself shows the interior of one of the shops in the "99 cents" format. The perspective was deliberately reduced and chromogenic color printing was used. The total size of the photo was 2.07 by 3.37 meters, and it was taken in 1999.
Lake in the Moonlight by Edward Steichen. Steichen lived from 1879 to 1973. During this time, he managed to become one of the most influential photographers of our time, although he began his career as an impressionist painter. In the 1920s and 1930s, Steichen created a whole series of portraits of Hollywood stars; these works went down in history as an example of the most complete disclosure of the character of a posing person. In 1904, the photographer experimented quite a lot with color photography. He was able to become one of the first American photographers to use autochroming to create color photographs. At that time, this technology was truly revolutionary, with its help the famous photograph "Lake in the moonlight" was born. It was sold for a record amount only 100 years later - on February 15, 2006. At the Sotheby's auction, a whopping $ 2.928 million was paid for it in New York.
And the photo shows just a forest and a lake, in which the reflections of the trees are visible. This piece of nature was then located in the state of New York. The photographer photographed a beautiful landscape near the home of his friend, art critic Charles Cuffin. Using light-sensitive jelly, Steichen was able to create the illusion of hand-applied color. At that time, few used such a technique, as a result, the masterpiece also became innovative. In total, art critics know only three prints of such a photograph, each of them is considered unique. One was eventually sold to a private collection, while the other two are in the US museum collections - in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and in the Museum of Modern Art. This time the price of the photograph is quite understandable - when creating it, a new and unique method at that time was used, there is a romantic plot here, and the age of the work should also be taken into account.
"Billy the Kid" by unknown. Billy the Kid went down in history for his bad deeds. This criminal from the Wild West managed to become famous thanks to Sheriff Pat Garrett. The guardian of the law killed the bandit, and then wrote his biography. So the book "The True Life of Billy the Kid" was published. The robber began his criminal career in 1870 and became famous for his participation in the so-called "Lincoln War". Then businessmen came together in it for the right to shadow control of New Mexico. Billy the Kid became one of those who opposed the Dolan clan, and the sheriff, the prosecutor and the governor himself belonged to the enemy side. So Billy the Kid came to be considered a criminal.
The only surviving photograph of this controversial character was sold at the Briean Lebel's 22nd annual Old West Show in Denver. According to the organizers, the painting, tentatively estimated at $ 400,000, was eventually sold on June 25, 2011 for $ 2.3 million. The card is a ferrotype - an early form of photography, in which the reverse image was obtained using metal plates. According to historians, this photo was taken by Dan Dedrick, a friend of Billy the Kid. The photograph remained in the author's family archive for a long time, being on view of the mass public only in 1980. This ferrotype was the only one that caused the high cost of work.
"Tobolsk Kremlin", Dmitry Medvedev. The high post allowed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to travel a lot. In addition, the ruler did not abandon his passion for photography. His most famous photograph was sold at the Christmas Alphabet charity auction in St. Petersburg. The job was purchased for 51 million rubles by a large businessman Mikhail Zingarevich. He said he wanted to hang a valuable photograph in his office. It depicts the Tobolsk Kremlin, captured by Medvedev from a helicopter. Such a high cost of photography is due to charitable purposes, as well as the high status of the author himself.
Nudity by Edward Weston. The famous photographer lived from 1886 to 1958. He was born in Illinois, and grew up already in Chicago. At the age of 16, Edward received his first camera as a gift from his father, it was the Kodak Bulls-Eye # 2. Weston took his first photographs on his aunt's farm and in city parks. At the age of 17, he already exhibited his work at the Art Institute of Chicago.
History has made Edward Weston one of the most famous masters of photography of the last century. His legacy has become several thousand photographs, carefully selected and made with high quality. These works became classics and influenced the work of many other photographers. The most expensive painting by Weston was "Nudity", created in 1925. It was sold in 2008 at Sotheby’s for $ 1.6 million. Pace-MacGill gallery owner Peter McGill became the owner of the rare photo. In "Nudity" there is an unusual plot, subtle halftones, a new unexpected angle and the use of sculptural forms. All of these techniques inherent in Weston's work have become classics for photography, inspiring many creative personalities. That is why the picture is so highly valued.
Georgia O'Keeffe (Hands) by Alfred Stiglitz. The American photographer, who lived in 1864-1946, had a great influence on the formation of photography as an independent art, influencing the formation of its aesthetics. Stiglitz even published magazines that revealed the secrets of photography. In 1902, he held an exhibition of his photographs at the National Art Club of New York, which was surprisingly successful. As a result, Stiglitz became the first photographer whose work began to be shown alongside paintings of the most famous artists, entering the collection of the best museums in America.
Stiglitz was born into a family of Jewish emigrants from Germany. They say that at the age of 11, little Alfred, watching the work of a photographer in a local studio, did not recommend that he retouch the negatives to achieve naturalness. In 1881, the family returned to Europe, seeking to provide a decent education for their children. Studying at the mechanical engineering faculty did not like Stiglitz, he was attracted by the world of painting and literature, he talked with fashionable writers and artists. In 1883, a young man in Berlin bought a camera, and has never parted with it ever since. The first teacher was professor-photochemist Hermann Vogel, and then Stiglitz began to learn from the world around him, noticing all its subtleties. For a long time, the photographer's wife was the artist Georgia O'Keeffe. Her portraits made both the master and his muse famous all over the world. The most expensive photograph of this woman was sold at Sotheby's New York for $ 1.47 million in 2006. It was bought by an American art dealer Jeffrey Frenkel.
Georgia O'Keeffe (Nude) by Alfred Stiglitz. Stiglitz again closes the rating of the most expensive photographs. In this portrait, his wife is wearing only a robe. This work was sold by everyone at the same auction in 2006 for $ 1.36 million. Such a high cost of work is due to the fact that Alfred Stiglitz was essentially the one who single-handedly pushed the United States into the world of 20th century art. The master fought desperately to get photography recognized as one of the arts, which he did.