Yesterday at Christie’s auction house in New York Andreas Gursky became £2.7m richer after selling his Rhine II photograph. At first glance I was dumb-founded to see how an image of some grass, sky, water and a path could be the most expensive photograph in the world. With no clues to the location this image could have been taken anywhere. It made me wonder if I had a picture worth a fortune gathering dust on my hard drive. However after a little more research I started to consider the meaning of Gursky’s 3m wide image and his intention.
“Paradoxically, this view of the Rhine cannot be obtained in situ, a fictitious construction was required to provide an accurate image of a modern river.” (Gursky)
Gursky digitally manipulated the image to produce a contemporary view of the Rhine. To know that he had removed elements of the scene makes it all the more interesting because it is something I had not thought of. Usually images are manipulated to enhance them, not minimise the subject. Deletion is something I will be thinking about whether to use in Assignment 4.
Before seeing this image I had never thought about the monetary value of a photograph. I suppose this is because there is usually a one-off original piece of art work in more traditional works, such as sculpture and painting, whereas digital images are replicated so often that they can be common place. I started to think about what are the most expensive photographs. The Telegraph website has provided a list here, with Gursky now occupying 2 of the slots.