This week, auction house Christie’s sold the above photo by Andreas Gursky (Rhein II) for $4.3 million, setting the record for all-time most expensive photo (the previous record was set by Cindy Sherman’s “Untitled #96,” which sold for $3.89 million).
A gallery professional, who asked not to be named for concern over adverse professional repercussions, thinks the price is a bit of a farce. He says he’s noticed a growing trend where photographers are working hard to re-brand themselves as “artists” so they can sell their pieces in the higher-priced fine art markets that don’t traditionally trade in photography. This sale, he said, smacks of that change.
While he tries to take a balanced approach and realize that any sale of this kind has the potential to reflect positively on the medium of photography, he also said it’s important to call a spade a spade and avoid turning photography into something it’s not.