Photography has long been an art. Although today everyone has a desire to acquire soap dishes and mirrors, it is not everyone who is able to grasp the moment. As a result, only brilliant photographers manage to take pictures that are considered art. And art has long been a commercial subject. Only in this case it is difficult to say that the price is determined by quality.
To understand why some beautiful art objects cost millions, it is impossible to understand simple mortals. This approach works in all areas of art, photography is not an exception. We will tell below about the most expensive pictures in history, trying to understand what determined their price.
“Rhine II”, Andreas Gursky.
This German photographer was born in Leipzig in 1955. But at this time he lives and works in Düsseldorf. The art of photography Gursky began to study in his childhood with his father, an advertising photographer. In 1981-1987, Andreas studied at the State Academy of Art in Düsseldorf. His teachers were a married couple Bernd and Hilla Becher, famous throughout the world. These spouses were awarded the Hasselblad Award in 2004. Gursky himself began to take an active part in group exhibitions since 1985, he soon became famous and began to organize personal exhibitions of his works. Photos of the German began to show in the most important world centers of contemporary art.
Widespread fame of Andreas Gursky is associated with his large panoramic photos taken off the hill. In the late 1990s, the master began to use computer photo editors, reaching with their help even greater depth of detail of his paintings. In 1999, Gursky made six photos of the Rhine, one of the largest rivers in Europe. The photo panels had a size of 185 by 363 cm. As a result, the picture of “Rhine II” became the most expensive in the world. Digital post-processing has made it possible to remove passers-by and buildings from the picture. This photo was exhibited on November 8, 2011 at the Christie’s auction in New York, dedicated to the subject “Impressionism and Contemporary Art.” It was believed that the work could be sold for about 2.5-3.5 million dollars. As a result, the final price was much higher – $ 4.338,500. The buyer preferred to keep the unknown.
Some compare the “Rain II” with the “Black Square” by Malevich – this art is understandable not to everyone. A high price can be explained. It is important that Gursky managed to capture the Rhine in its original form, let it be post-processing and could not remove the asphalt track. In this form, as the river is represented in the photograph, it has not existed for a long time. After all, the flat terrain is either built up by man, or simply overgrown with plants. It is important to note the composite structure of the picture. It is made in classical style with the use of rhythmic construction. All lines here correspond with each other in scale 1: 4. This allows the viewer to more easily perceive and colors, and all rather big photo as a whole. Some see in the “Rhine II” and a hidden meaning. The photo seems to oppose heaven and earth. It is difficult to understand what the photographer really wanted to tell us. From the point of view of philosophy, you can see in the picture our very life. The combination of light and colored bands show our path on Earth, and a bright and wide sky strip is something spiritual that is always with us and above the worldly.
“Untitled, No. 96,” Cindy Sherman.
Cindy was born on January 19, 1954 in New Jersey, moving with her family in time to Huntington, New York. The art theme has always interested a woman, which is why she went to the Buffalo College for the Faculty of Fine Arts. There, Sherman realized that drawing does not give her the opportunity to express herself, as a result, she began to engage in photography.
The first series of pictures “Untitled A-E” was made by Cindy back in college, one year before graduation. At the same time, the model was made by the photographer herself, who believed that it was her only power to depict what she had planned. In his project, Sherman appeared at once in five different images.I must say that she told a photo story, she did not find a confession from critics.
But the series “Untitled Film Stills”, created in 1977-1980, made Sherman famous. In this story there was a place of 69 black and white photographs that looked like freeze frames from a film. This allowed the audience to see something familiar in these pictures. Since 1995, Sherman’s works have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The artist also received such prestigious awards as the National Endowment for the Arts, Skowhegan Medal for Photography, The Hasselblad Foundation. Throughout the world there are exhibitions of works by Sidney Sherman, making her work even more recognizable and popular. She refuses to consider herself a photographer, calling the artist-performanceist. Until now, Sherman is posing for his photos. Only in the sensational series “Sexy Pictures” together, Cindy took off the dolls. The poses of the toys were so frank that they looked like pornographic.
And the most famous work of the artist is “Untitled”. This color shot entered the series “Models” and was made in 1981. 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 picture is rich in composition and can not boast, it has a rather profound meaning. Sherman depicts here a teenage girl, both innocent and seductive. The photo shows how the female essence strives to jump out. After all, the girl is holding a piece of newspaper with the announcement of finding a partner.
“Cowboy”, Richard Prince.
This modern American photo artist was born on August 6, 1949. He managed to become one of the cult masters in his art. In the 1980s, his famous series of Cowboys, Jokes and Hoods brought glory to Prince. There, the artist used popular images from magazines, pop culture and even base reading, which address the problems of the consumer world and American identity. The main thing in the art of Prince was the immersion in the world of mass culture and at the same time the criticism of this space.
Often Richard took on topics that are close to the notion of the American way of life. It could be biker gangs, celebrities, cowboys. These popular motifs he reproduced and remade, accentuating the viewer’s attention on the dark side of society.
The most famous work of Prince was made by him for the advertising poster of cigarettes Marlboro in 1989. The original was sold in New York at Sotheby’s auction on November 14, 2007 for $ 3.4 million. In this case, it is worth talking about the cowboy, not as a classic etalon of courage and the American Wild West, naive westerns, but as a new sex symbol.
“99 cents,” Andreas Gursky.
Already known to us the artist was able to sell in February 2007 for 3,346.456 dollars his diptych. The price significantly exceeded 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 the gallery in New York. The third cost the new owner $ 2.25 million, the deal was held at the Sotheby’s auction in May 2006. At the same time, the diptych variants are still different in their perspectives. The owner of the first and most expensive print was the Ukrainian businessman and philanthropist Victor Pinchuk. Diptych is considered to be the subject of modern art, its value depends largely on the author and the size of the print. The photo shows the interior of one of the shops in the “99 cents” format. The prospect was intentionally reduced and a chromogenic color seal was applied. The total size of the photo was 2.07 by 3.37 meters, and it was made in 1999.
“A lake in the moonlight,” Edward Steichen.
Steychen 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 creative career as an impressionist artist.In the 1920s and 1930s, Steichen created a series of portraits of Hollywood stars; in history these works were included 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 who used autochroming to create color images. At that time, this technology was truly revolutionary, with the help of which the famous photograph “Lake in the Moonlight” was born. They sold it for a record amount only after 100 years – on February 15, 2006. At the auction Sotheby’s for it was paid in New York as much as 2.928 million dollars.
A photo shows just a forest and a lake in which the reflections of trees are visible. This piece of nature was then located in the state of New York. The photographer photographed a beautiful landscape near the house of his friend, art critic Charles Cuffin. With the help of a photosensitive jelly, Steichen was able to create the illusion of applying color manually. At that time, few used this technique, as a result, the masterpiece was also innovative. In total, art experts know only three prints of such a photograph, each of them is considered unique. One as a result was sold in a private collection, and two others are in museum collections of the USA – in the Metropolitan Museum and in the Museum of Modern Art. At this time, the price of the photo is quite understandable – when it was created, a new and unique method was used, there is a romantic plot, it is also necessary to take into account the age of the work.
“Billy Kid”, the author is unknown.
Billy Kid went down in history due to his bad deeds. This criminal from the Wild West managed to become famous thanks to sheriff Pat Garrett. The keeper of the law killed the bandit, and then wrote his biography. So the light saw the book “The True Life of Billy the Kid.” The robber began his criminal career as far back as 1870 and was famous for his participation in the so-called “Lincoln War”. Then in it businessmen for the right of shadow management of New Mexico have converged. Billy the Kid became one of those who opposed the Dolan clan, and in fact the sheriff, prosecutor and the governor belonged to the enemy side. So Billy Kid began to be considered a criminal.
The only surviving photo of this ambiguous character was sold at the 22nd annual Briean Lebel’s Old West Show in Denver. According to the organizers, the picture, previously estimated at 400 thousand dollars, was eventually sold on June 25, 2011 for 2.3 million dollars. The card is a ferrotype – an early view of the photo, in the creation of which the reverse image was obtained with the help of metal plates. According to historians, this photo was made by Dan Dedrick, Billy Kid’s friend. In the family archive of the author, the picture was taken for a long time, appearing on the mass audience’s review only in 1980. This ferrotype was the only one, which led to a high cost of work.
“Tobolsk Kremlin”, Dmitry Medvedev.
The high office allowed the President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev to travel a lot. In addition, the ruler did not abandon his passion for photography. His most famous photo was sold at a charity auction in St. Petersburg “Christmas alphabet.” The work was purchased for 51 million rubles by a large businessman Mikhail Zingarevich. He said that he wants to hang a valuable photo in his office. It depicts the Tobolsk Kremlin, shot 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.
“Nakedness”, Edward Weston.
The famous photographer lived from 1886 to 1958. He was born in Illinois, and grew up in Chicago. At 16, Edward received his first camera as a gift from his father, it became Kodak Bulls-Eye No. 2. His first photographs of Weston made on his aunt’s farm and in the parks of the city. At age 17, he already exhibited his work at the Chicago Art Institute.
History has made Edward Weston one of the most famous photography masters of the last century. A legacy of it were several thousand photographs, carefully selected and qualitatively made. These works became classics and influenced the work of many other photographers. The most expensive picture of Weston was “Nudity”, created in 1925. It was sold in 2008 at the auction Sotheby’s for 1.6 million dollars. The owner of the rare photo was the owner of the gallery Pace-MacGill Peter McGill. In “Nakedness” there is an unusual plot, thin halftones, a new unexpected foreshortening and the use of sculptural forms. All of these techniques, typical of 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)”, Alfred Stiglitz.
American photographer, who lived in 1864-1946, had a great influence on the formation of photography as an independent art, influencing the formation of his aesthetics. Stiglitz even produced magazines, which revealed the secrets of photo art. 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 along with the paintings of the most illustrious artists, having entered the collections of the best museum in America.
Stiglitz was born into a family of Jewish immigrants from Germany. It is said that at 11 years old little Alfred, observing the work of a photographer in a local studio, did not recommend that he retouch negatives to achieve naturalness. In 1881, the family returned to Europe, trying to give decent education to children. Studying at the machine-building faculty of Stiglitz did not like it, he was attracted to the world of painting and literature, he talked with fashionable writers and artists. In 1883, a young man in Berlin bought a camera, since then, without parting with it. The first teacher was a professor-photochemist Herman Vogel, and then Stiglitz began to learn from the outside world, noting all his subtleties. For a long time, the photographer’s wife was the artist Georgia O’Keeffe. Her portraits are glorified and the master, and his muse to the whole world. The most expensive picture with this woman was sold at an auction Sotheby’s in New York for 1.47 million dollars in 2006. And it was bought by an American art dealer Jeffrey Frenkel.
“Georgia O’Keeffe (Nude)”, Alfred Stiglitz.
Closes the rating of the most expensive photos again Stiglitz. In this portrait his wife is dressed in only one robe. This work was sold by everyone at the same auction in 2006 for 1.36 million dollars. Such a high cost of work is due to the fact that Alfred Stiglitz was in fact the one who alone pushed the United States into the world of twentieth-century art. Master desperately struggled to ensure that photography recognized as one of the arts, which he did.