#AndreasGursky Rhine II. The three metre-wide print took the top spot on the most expensive photograph list when it sold for $4.3m at Christie’s New York. And that not six months after the last photography record was set; Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #97 was sold, also by Christie’s New York, in May for £2.4m. There’s good reason to believe that photography prices will continue to rise, with more people willing to invest large sums in it.
That said, it could be a long time before a photograph comes along that will top Gursky’s print. This image is a vibrant, beautiful and memorable – I should say unforgettable - contemporary twist on Germany’s famed genre and favourite theme: the romantic landscape, and man’s relationship with nature.
But it is more than that. For all its apparent simplicity, the photograph is a statement of dedication to its craft. The late 1980s, when Gursky shot to attention, was a time when photography was first entering gallery spaces, and photographs were taking their place alongside paintings. Photography “as art”, at the time, was still brave and new, and the simplicity of this image shows a great deal of confidence in its effectiveness and potential for creating atmospheric, hyper-real scenarios that in turn teach us to see - and read - the world around us anew. The scale, attention to colour and form of his photography can be read as a deliberate challenge to painting's status as a higher art form. On top of that, Gursky’s images are extraordinary technical accomplishments, which take months to set up in advance, and require a lot of digital doctoring to get just right.
By Florence Waters for @telegraph