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A fool and his money.....
Old 07-13-2014   #1
peterm1
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A fool and his money.....

I was having a look at the web site below (quite a nice little blog by Thomas Pidelski although with some too forceful views occasionally) when I came across this article about the record price of $4.3M set for a photo taken by Andreas Gursky a few years ago.

http://pindelski.org/Photography/2011/12/22/scam/

I agree with Pidelski that its not something I would pay much for, even assuming I had a few million at my disposal to throw around on art.

It set me thinking about making a post here about other over-rated (and over-expensive) photos / photographers.

In line with that thought, I would have to add in my opinion that I am no fan of Gregory Crewdson (even though he was nice enough to come to my home city of Adelaide Down Under to run a Masterclass in photography - Kudo's for that!).

http://gregoryackland.blogspot.com.a...-adelaide.html

Not perhaps in the same class of Gursky for making a bizarre image that pulls in millions but I never the less feel his work too often to be a kind of photographic kitsch and somewhat overblown in that he often has an entire film crew which he "directs". I don't think he usually even presses the shutter button. But there is no doubt he is responsible for the resulting images.

And I have to say I just don't "get" his images as art - they are just so obviously contrived and set up (maybe that's the point and I am missing it) . To be honest I don't have too much problem with the approach of using a film crew to take a photo (although its the kind of overblown idea that the art world loves - parallels here with great classic painters and sculptors of the renaissance) but it's the results I really take issue with or to be more accurate don't "tickle my fancy". Maybe I am wrong and he has something others get that I am plumb too dumb or unsophisticated to see. Maybe not.

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=g...w=1920&bih=867

Thomas Pidelski the blog author above says "a fool and his money are soon parted". I would be a little kinder and just say......"There is no accounting for taste" (Which can be interpreted as - taste: some got it and some aint!) And I suppose to be fair I would have to add on behalf of the artist, "Nice work if you can get it" (Which can be interpreted as - if you are smart enough to separate wealthy and foolish patrons from their pelf then, "good on you" as we Aussies say.)

I would like to hear you examples of least-favorite images and photographers that you think to be excessively appreciated by the art world but please keep your opinions polite and your comments proportionate - no abuse please and lets not see this delve into the depths of negativity by at least providing some reasons.

Or if you prefer, educate me and tell me I am wrong and that it's must be one of the great art works in the past century. (Ahem)
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Old 07-13-2014   #2
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I remember reading about that Andreas Gursky photo. I don't think there is much special about it except for the price. Yes indeed, a fool and his money......

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Old 07-13-2014   #3
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I went to a lecture in Atlanta at the High museum where Thomas Struth and the director of MOMA spoke and presented an exhibition of Struth's images. It was mainly an hour if the MOMA director gushing over Struth and Struth BSing the audience. His images were large and IMO very unimpressive. I guess if you can't do them great do them big. Besides the unimpressive images Struth was a total jerk to my friend that I was there with. Struth did however turn his charm on for the wealthy old women that contribute heavily to the High.
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Old 07-13-2014   #4
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Maybe size matters?
The Gursky is HUGE! 1.8 x 3.6 m. I hear it is super detailed and look amazing in person. Still, its a lot of cash.

Michael
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Old 07-13-2014   #5
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Sorry but ... not again !
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Old 07-13-2014   #6
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Just more proof that ol' PT Barnum was right..."There's a sucker born every minute"
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Old 07-13-2014   #7
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Hmm, easy way to start a flame war, but I'll bite anyway.

HCB: Dude jumps over a puddle. If someone took that photo today, we'd probably think it was a nice moment, and forget it. Now, I know HCB was not about one photo, and we're meant to appreciate the whole portfolio/legacy/collection. I'm just not seeing the big deal.

But that's the whole thing isn't it? There is no accounting for taste, and I'm sure many here will scarcely be able to believe that I don't see much merit in HCB's photos, but I guess sometimes people's viewpoints are so far apart that there really is no understanding them from the outside.
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Old 07-13-2014   #8
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What does anyone care what other people spend their money on? It's their money. I've probably wasted more money, relative to my income that whoever bought this Gursky print.

So what....big deal.
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Old 07-13-2014   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thegman View Post
Hmm, easy way to start a flame war, but I'll bite anyway.

HCB: Dude jumps over a puddle. If someone took that photo today, we'd probably think it was a nice moment, and forget it. Now, I know HCB was not about one photo, and we're meant to appreciate the whole portfolio/legacy/collection. I'm just not seeing the big deal.

But that's the whole thing isn't it? There is no accounting for taste, and I'm sure many here will scarcely be able to believe that I don't see much merit in HCB's photos, but I guess sometimes people's viewpoints are so far apart that there really is no understanding them from the outside.
I must admit I never saw that much in this particular image by HCB myself. I always thought it to be over rated. But then again I admit it has to be seen in its historical context I suppose. Back then it was still unusual for photographers to be carrying around "miniature" cameras and making images that capture so well a moment in time. Cameras were big bulky things and people had to pose. These days its so taken for granted that this image can be regarded as passe. About 2 years ago there was a HCB retrospective in Australia. I went and have to say that I though there were many more better photos by HCB than some he is best known for. That is to say before I saw all of this collection I was a bit inclined as you are that I did not see much merit in his photos. But when I saw the whole collection I want wow he really was a good as they say. But maybe that's just me.
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Old 07-13-2014   #10
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Sorry but ... not again !
My thought exactly.
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Old 07-13-2014   #11
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what you missed with hcb was that it was a genre that had no history. He is idolized less as each new photographer might amaze but he was the first (documented) for his kind of photography. His photographs represent all those that came after his and that is his achievement. If you look at art you must understand that it has many angles of view and some are about the time they were taken or painted and might have no bearing on time as it is now but wouldn't exist without the time before it.

My own irk is Peter Lik and the supposed AU$1M sale to an anonymous private art collector (wink wink, nudge nudge)

I will never forget this morning for the rest of my life. It was calm, and the scent of the fall forest filled my lungs. The mist cleared, and a magical reflection in the river briefly appeared. White birch trees, black trunks, a kaleidoscope of foliage combining to reveal an illusion of three dimensions. I pressed the shutter – once – and then the scene vanished with the morning breeze, never to be seen again.”

Sales pitch anyone? Of course the unexpected result was that all his other photos were suddenly worth more.
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Old 07-13-2014   #12
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Just did a search to find out if the buyer was ever named. They usually do and cannot resist to declare what great art is worth but found this instead ...

Soon enough, they realized that having the $25+k Artist Proofs (AP) helped sell the $3k and $4k pieces. Someone would fall in love with a piece that was being showed as an AP and be told is was $32,000! Their heart sank knowing they could not afford that, and then they’d offer you a “regular edition” piece for only $3700. What a bargain! You were sold.

http://scottreither.com/blogwp/2012/...pher-my-story/
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Old 07-13-2014   #13
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Are you all blind?
That is a great image.
Compare it some of your own photos and you will see what i mean
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Old 07-13-2014   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelwj View Post
Maybe size matters?
The Gursky is HUGE! 1.8 x 3.6 m. I hear it is super detailed and look amazing in person. Still, its a lot of cash.

Michael
If I were to run downtown tomorrow, take a picture of the Mississippi river with my mamiya 6 x 7 and have it blown up, how much could I get for it? Pictures from the mamiya are very detailed. I'm not quite as well known as Gursky (who's Gursky?); I would settle for maybe $500,000.

No, huh? How about if I throw in a shot of the Missouri river as well? I live about 1/2 hour from the Mississippi, and maybe 45 minuted from the Missouri. No trouble at all, really.
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Old 07-13-2014   #15
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Hmm, easy way to start a flame war, but I'll bite anyway.

HCB: Dude jumps over a puddle. If someone took that photo today, we'd probably think it was a nice moment, and forget it. Now, I know HCB was not about one photo, and we're meant to appreciate the whole portfolio/legacy/collection. I'm just not seeing the big deal.

But that's the whole thing isn't it? There is no accounting for taste, and I'm sure many here will scarcely be able to believe that I don't see much merit in HCB's photos, but I guess sometimes people's viewpoints are so far apart that there really is no understanding them from the outside.
IMO HCB's beauty is that he had a knack for getting those moments with a consistency, and that he did it in the "old days", when taking each frame meant a lot more. He does shoot prolifically, so I guess it's not magic but just exploring every possibility in every scene.

I don't admire him as much as the other street masters, but I think there is beauty in his photos, especially if you look at them as part of a portfolio. I know I would be very proud if I could deliver a large body of work on par with his quality with modern digital bodies...and I think that speaks about HCB's prowess as a photographer.

As for Rhine II - I don't know what to make of it. But had I taken the photo I would have though "ah, another wasted shot".
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Old 07-13-2014   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post
Or if you prefer, educate me and tell me I am wrong and that it's must be one of the great art works in the past century. (Ahem)
First, you have to remember that the price for the Gursky was achieved on the secondary market. Gursky's not actually asking for $4M for his prints. The high price for the Rhein II picture was probably a result of multiple factors, like the fact that most of the other prints in the edition are in the hands of museums, that it's a Gursky picture at the height of a photographic practice that has basically dominated the past 20 years in photography, and lasty - and this is my own opinion - that it resembles minimal art which makes it more relatable for the art buying crowd who would otherwise not spend this kind of money on photography.

I agree with you on Crewdson. I really want to like his work but I just can't. It's just too much of everything. His Dioramas from the 90s have some appeal, though, in a kitschy Twin Peaks intro sequence kind of way.

As for your premise "a fool and his money", let's be realistic for a minute. This whole development is simply a result of a massive concentration of wealth in a very tiny segment of the population. It's not likely that the person who bought the Gursky has only a few million lying around and is investing it in one photograph. It's more likely that he/she (though we all know it's probably a "he") has a billion in their bank account so at this point it doesn't really matter if they spend a few million on something that they want. They have more money than they can spend anyways.
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Old 07-13-2014   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thegman View Post
HCB: Dude jumps over a puddle. If someone took that photo today, we'd probably think it was a nice moment, and forget it.
A bit off topic - I watched an interview with HCB. The puddle photo was taken through the planks of a fence. Only the lens of his camera fit between the planks and he was unable to see what he was photographing.
He did not see the man jumping the puddle. I searched for the video titled "Luck and Geometry" but it is no longer available anywhere.
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Old 07-13-2014   #18
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This guy got it PRECISELY right , and he didn't even use a camera - if you want REAL art, there is no substitute to this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYG1qXZF5oo
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Old 07-14-2014   #19
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I was a little shocked when Cindy Sherman's photo sold earlier than Gursky's for 3.8 million ($). I saw it and for once I liked what I saw on the internet better than the real thing. But I do have to say Sherman's exhibit at SFMOMA was very good and she certainly has something. I just can't put my finger on what it is.

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Old 07-14-2014   #20
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Fool or Tool?
What was the name of the movie where mafia was tossing some crappy painting for money laundering?
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Old 07-14-2014   #21
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I don't appreciate this stuff on 'art/aesthetic' merits, but Gursky is a major name, and like anything else, his products are commodities with appreciating values. I wouldn't call anyone who could afford his stuff a 'fool,' and when the fool sells in a few years, the profits will be significant. We can call Donald Sterling a fool (or worse), but he bought a bad team for very little money and will sell for over 2 billion dollars. I could use that kind of foolishness.
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Old 07-14-2014   #22
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Sometimes its what you just like. We have a guy around here (SF Bay Area): Henry Wessel; that takes photos of houses, stoplights, parked cars, people at the beach and I really like his stuff. Again I can't tell you why. It seems like it would be easy as he says to drive around and shoot from his car. But I've tried it, it isn't that easy. At least for me.
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Old 07-14-2014   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oneANT View Post
what you missed with hcb was that it was a genre that had no history. He is idolized less as each new photographer might amaze but he was the first (documented) for his kind of photography. His photographs represent all those that came after his and that is his achievement. If you look at art you must understand that it has many angles of view and some are about the time they were taken or painted and might have no bearing on time as it is now but wouldn't exist without the time before it.
I suppose it depends on how you define the genre, there were street photographers decades before HCB though. Anyway though, I'm not saying he didn't take good photos, no doubt he did. And even if he didn't invent the genre, he obviously played a massive role in defining it.

I'm not denigrating HCB at all, just responding to the OP about art that I don't really see the appeal of, and I still don't see the appeal. I just wouldn't have an interest in hanging it on my wall, whereas say, Ansel Adams, I would.

Clearly 90% of this forum disagrees with me, and I don't want to change anyone's mind, it's just interesting that we all have such different points of view.
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Old 07-14-2014   #24
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First, you have to remember that the price for the Gursky was achieved on the secondary market. Gursky's not actually asking for $4M for his prints. The high price for the Rhein II picture was probably a result of multiple factors, like the fact that most of the other prints in the edition are in the hands of museums, that it's a Gursky picture at the height of a photographic practice that has basically dominated the past 20 years in photography, and lasty - and this is my own opinion - that it resembles minimal art which makes it more relatable for the art buying crowd who would otherwise not spend this kind of money on photography.

I agree with you on Crewdson. I really want to like his work but I just can't. It's just too much of everything. His Dioramas from the 90s have some appeal, though, in a kitschy Twin Peaks intro sequence kind of way.

As for your premise "a fool and his money", let's be realistic for a minute. This whole development is simply a result of a massive concentration of wealth in a very tiny segment of the population. It's not likely that the person who bought the Gursky has only a few million lying around and is investing it in one photograph. It's more likely that he/she (though we all know it's probably a "he") has a billion in their bank account so at this point it doesn't really matter if they spend a few million on something that they want. They have more money than they can spend anyways.


I think what you say about Crewdson more or less also represents my position - I want to like his work but can't. I think that while I am reasonably sophisticated in such matters it just plain puzzles me- for example, whats the message in people sitting around a table in an ordinary suburban home in a room filled (literally filled) with flowers. He just comes across as trying too hard. And in in my view, mostly misses.

As to the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, that rings true. We often see it in booms in any kind of investment market. When there is too much money chasing too few quality investment products, people and institutions begin investing in lesser assets, thereby bidding up their price to unfeasible levels. That is usually the first sign of an impending "correction" in that market. Nuff said.
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Old 07-14-2014   #25
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Old 07-14-2014   #26
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I like Crewdson's work. I don't like Sally Mann's. Both are highly contrived. Choice is a fickle matter. But I wouldn't pay big bucks for anyone's work.
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Old 07-14-2014   #27
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Gosh, I wish I had met this fool.

Dean Collins once said, "beauty is in the eye of the checkbook holder."

It's true!
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Old 07-14-2014   #28
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There is worse fine art created that sells for exorbitant sums (modern sculpture for one). I see no problem with it. And from what I've heard, the print in question is quite striking in person. The main issue I have with it is that it is heavily manipulated/photoshopped.

I greatly prefer Cindy Sherman's Untitled #96--I actually adore it.
Gursky's Rhein II is disingenuous in my mind.
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Old 07-14-2014   #29
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my brother got to see the gursky retrospective at sfmoma. he said the prints were incredibly beautiful. i've read a few articles and essays, and like most contemporary art, you're not going to "get it" unless you've studied a lot of art history, not that you need to in order to appreciate its beauty and the significance of its subject matter. the christies sales pitch is actually pretty accessible and you can get a lot out of it just by googling the subjects they mentioned.

as for the fool that bought this photo, he or she is probably aware of the irony of buying a gursky.
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Old 07-15-2014   #30
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Quote:
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what you missed with hcb was that it was a genre that had no history...
Hi,

FWIW, there were street photographers many years/decades before HCB. So called detective cameras and much bigger ones were used. Especially after the falling plate magazine was invented. The first street photographer with a Leica and B&W film was Oscar Barnack in 1914 or 15.

HCB's "Man Jumps Over Puddle" is famous, to me, for creating BS in forums...

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Old 07-15-2014   #31
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Many of you need to learn the history of the medium and understand why certain works have been deemed important... you cannot view a photo taken in 1930 and then 85 years later wonder why your similar (but inferior) photo is not viewed in the same light. Sure, there is some BS in the art world, but many of the artists that you guys are panning deserve the recognition they get within their circles (money aside). Now, you don't have to like this stuff... but saying you could duplicate Gursky's photos shows that you have no idea what type of work goes into making his photos.
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Old 07-15-2014   #32
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The Puddle Jumper is BS HCB made much better photos even then. Also compared to Lartigue's photographs he downright sucks. HCB was created by art curators at least the importance of the puddle Jumper is hugely exagerated Lartigue did similar work some 20 years earlier with a LF camera. HCB is a great photographer is puddle Jumper is one of his weakest Images though.

In context of Gursky it should be remembered that the biggest art buyers are corporations art is sold like stock it's seen as an Investment they don't care about the content they need names and the art market gives them names.
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Old 07-15-2014   #33
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yeah ok i don't like the photo neither. i was a fool.
But i will sell it for 50% more, i am sure.
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Old 07-15-2014   #34
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Quote:
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HCB: Dude jumps over a puddle. If someone took that photo today, we'd probably think it was a nice moment, and forget it. [...] I'm just not seeing the big deal.
There are at least 3 layers in that photo. It is indeed a VERY nice moment photographed.
Is it worth millions/ I wouldn't think so. But it's a matter of market
Plenty of paintings or sculptures as well that are overrated which have zero layers of interest in them...
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Old 07-19-2014   #35
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The artist in many cases is not the one making the big $$$, though Gursky does well I'm sure.

He has probably sold his work through a gallery to a collector. When the piece gets big $$$$ it is usually one collector that bought the piece from a gallery years ago and bought the piece as an investment and then sold it for a lot more. Which in this case probably worked out just fine for the collector original.

Love or hate the work we as photographers should be happy that photographs are fetching the kind of money that was once reserved for other art forms. I personally like Gursky's work.

The thing that some miss is that the work that demands big $$$ you can usually tell by just looking at the piece who the artist is. The fact it doesn't look like everything else makes it special.

Take a good look around and see how many photographs by thousands of different photographers all look the same. Nothing special about that I would say. The easy thing to do is make work that looks like everyone else's. That hard thing to do is make images that look like yours.

Is it worth it. Must be because thats what it got. The market sets the price. Would I pay that if I had the money? I donno. Maybe. If I were a collector and I thought there was still room for the price to increase., then yeah. Some of these collectors have done better collecting photography and selling it than if they'd have put their money in the stock market. So maybe not such a fool after all.

I'll say it again, love or hate his work we should all be glad that photographs are selling for that kind of money.
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Old 07-19-2014   #36
airfrogusmc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DominikDUK View Post
The Puddle Jumper is BS HCB made much better photos even then. Also compared to Lartigue's photographs he downright sucks. HCB was created by art curators at least the importance of the puddle Jumper is hugely exagerated Lartigue did similar work some 20 years earlier with a LF camera. HCB is a great photographer is puddle Jumper is one of his weakest Images though.

In context of Gursky it should be remembered that the biggest art buyers are corporations art is sold like stock it's seen as an Investment they don't care about the content they need names and the art market gives them names.
The puddle jump kind of visually demonstrates his visual approach to the medium. The repeating shapes in the posters in the background and of the jumper and all of those reversed in the reflection. The moment that the jumper mimicked those shapes in the background is overall what his work is about and shows up in a lot of his work. That doesn't even address the motion and the arrow head formed by the jump helping reenforce the motion of the jumper. Is it his greatest work? I think it is part of a great body of work.
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