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Author Topic: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II  (Read 88428 times)
Isaac
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« Reply #60 on: February 10, 2013, 10:35:08 AM »
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Which guys?
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kencameron
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« Reply #61 on: February 10, 2013, 02:58:59 PM »
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Quote the first sentence and Google finds - The Scotsman, Friday 11 July 2008

As for originality, The Unmade Bed Imogen Cunningham, 1957.
Nice links, thanks. I would argue that the existence of Imogen Cunningham's elegant B&W print, with its sheet referencing drapery in painting etc, doesn't really call in question the originality of Tracey Emin turning her actual smelly bed into a "work of art". OTOH, I also think originality is ultimately just an aesthetic characteristic rather than an aesthetic virtue.
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Isaac
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« Reply #62 on: February 10, 2013, 07:47:17 PM »
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I think we should wonder about possible associations, just as seeing Excusado should make us wonder about Marcel Duchamp ;-)
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Ray
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« Reply #63 on: February 10, 2013, 08:07:26 PM »
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Which guys?

Dear me, Isaac! The question, "Aren't there a few points you guys seem to be ignoring?" was merely a general expression in common language of my impression, after skipping through the responses in this thread, that essential questions about this photograph that occurred to me, were not being addressed.

However, if you wish to get philosophical, the answer to your question would be... 'most guys on most subjects throughout the ages, and during the present time'.

To get back to the topic, Eric made a reference to the print's humongus size, without mentioning how large, and Kencameron mentioned he'd reserve his judgement until he'd seen it full-size.

If one accepts the recommended viewing distance from a print as being 1.5x its diagonal, then Gursky's 12ft wide Rhine II should be ideally viewed from a distance of 20ft or more. The sheer size alone makes the print more suitable for wealthy people who can afford to live in mult-million dollar mansions containing at least one huge room.

Other issues that occurred to me, simply because of my general interest in photography, are the resolution of this huge print and the type of camera used. If the scene was shot with a single frame from Medium Format film, then the print might appear rather fuzzy from distances closer than 20ft, depending on the type of sharpening applied.

Don't many people, particularly photographers, like to examine large prints from close up? I haven't been able to find any 100% crops of this Gursky print.

The general outrage and amazement that such a high price could be paid for something which is essentially a photograph, despite its huge size and the artistic manipulation involved in the processing, is perhaps overblown.

Things that are either scarce or unique have a history of attracting ridiculously high prices, such as rare postage stamps, a pot of gold, or lumps of highly compressed carbon, often referred to as diamonds.

I ask myself, which is more ludicrous, paying $4.7 million for an impressively large print depicting a very peaceful and idealized scene across the Rhine River, which you would rarely find in the real world due to the ever-present dog-walkers, cyclists, pedestrians and occasional factory... or, paying $4.7 million (or more) for a lump of highly compressed and polished carbon which merely glitters, and which is usually locked up in a safe out of sight, for security reasons?

Another issue is the reproducibility of the Rhine II print. A photograph of a painting is still a photograph and the differences between the two can be easily discerned. But a photograph of a photograph can be visually indistinguishable from the original, without forensic testing.

If I were to own this print from Gursky, one of the first things I'd do is make a copy of it. I'd even be prepared to buy the best Nikon prime to use on my D800E, and take multiple shots of it for stitching, so I could capture even the texture of the photographic paper used for the original.  Grin

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Isaac
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« Reply #64 on: February 11, 2013, 01:31:38 PM »
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Dear me, Isaac! The question, "Aren't there a few points you guys seem to be ignoring?" was merely a general expression in common language of my impression, after skipping through the responses in this thread, that essential questions about this photograph that occurred to me, were not being addressed.

To get back to the topic, Eric ... and Kencameron ...

Those guys.
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kencameron
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« Reply #65 on: February 11, 2013, 03:00:02 PM »
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I think we should wonder about possible associations, just as seeing Excusado should make us wonder about Marcel Duchamp ;-)
Nice one. You've got me wondering.
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kencameron
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« Reply #66 on: February 11, 2013, 03:20:29 PM »
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I ask myself, which is more ludicrous, paying $4.7 million for an impressively large print ... or, paying $4.7 million (or more) for a lump of highly compressed and polished carbon...
Depends what you get when you sell them. Market value is market value. If you are saying that some of the outcomes of the market are ludicrous, or (much) worse, sure. But where would we be without it? Somewhere nasty, brutish and short, IMO.

Still not sure what points I was ignoring - or even if I was one of the guys who ignored them  Wink
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Ray
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« Reply #67 on: February 11, 2013, 08:50:44 PM »
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Still not sure what points I was ignoring - or even if I was one of the guys who ignored them  Wink

Let's be clear. I haven't accused anyone of ignoring any points. I merely asked the question, "Aren't there a few points you guys seem to be ignoring?"

If anyone wants to answer, No, then fine. However, it might be a bit arrogant to answer 'No, period', because there will usually prove to be at least a few points that most people will ignore on any matter raised. An alternative answer could be, "I might have missed a few points, but none of those that you mentioned."

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Depends what you get when you sell them. Market value is market value. If you are saying that some of the outcomes of the market are ludicrous, or (much) worse, sure. But where would we be without it? Somewhere nasty, brutish and short, IMO.

The point I'm trying to make here is that we should distinguish between a commodity which is primarily used as a substitute for money, that is, something which increases in value as money does when deposited in a bank account, and something which in it's own right, independent of any price tag, produces a sense of joy, or peace, or contemplative calm, or wonder etc.

For example, if one is a multibillionaire and has bought a nice mansion with extensive gardens for $80 million, and has spent a further $20 million refurbishing, decorating and lanscaping the place, then an additional $4.7 million to create a spectacular view of the Rhine River, creating the impression that the room where the print is located actually has a window overlooking that peaceful and serene river, could be considered as money well-spent, as opposed to a few diamonds or a few kilograms of gold bullion stored out of sight in a safe.
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kencameron
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« Reply #68 on: February 11, 2013, 10:55:00 PM »
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The point I'm trying to make here is that we should distinguish between a commodity which is primarily used as a substitute for money, that is, something which increases in value as money does when deposited in a bank account, and something which in it's own right, independent of any price tag, produces a sense of joy, or peace, or contemplative calm, or wonder etc.

For example, if one is a multibillionaire and has bought a nice mansion with extensive gardens for $80 million, and has spent a further $20 million refurbishing, decorating and lanscaping the place, then an additional $4.7 million to create a spectacular view of the Rhine River, creating the impression that the room where the print is located actually has a window overlooking that peaceful and serene river, could be considered as money well-spent, as opposed to a few diamonds or a few kilograms of gold bullion stored out of sight in a safe.

Ah, I understand. A fair distinction, reminding us that there is more than one kind of value. Although of course there may be people for whom the knowledge that they have diamonds or gold bullion stored out of sight in a safe would produce a sense of joy, or peace, or contemplative calm, or wonder. Although I wouldn't personally go that quite that far (except maybe as to the wonder, given the usual state of my finances), my own feelings would be probably be at least positive.
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RSL
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« Reply #69 on: February 12, 2013, 09:02:10 AM »
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People who collect Gursky's photographs or Pollock's drippings aren't collecting art, they're collecting objects, in the same way coin collectors aren't collecting coins because they're valuable as coins but because they're valuable as objects. Art collectors would be much better off collecting coins. An art object hanging on a wall easily can be vandalized by a vandal or destroyed in a fire, but a coin properly secured is really hard to damage. Besides that, a coin can show another collector how obscenely wealthy you must be just as effectively as a canvas full of drips can. A thousand years from now nobody will have a clue who Andreas Gursky was or who Jackson Pollock was, but a collector may still have your coins in his collection, and those coins will be worth trillions (mainly because of Ben Bernanke).
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Isaac
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« Reply #70 on: February 12, 2013, 10:19:40 AM »
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A fair distinction, reminding us that there is more than one kind of value.

"I am suggesting that the price paid for a work of art becomes its absolute and authoritative value, even if the value the price implies is not particularly clear. It is presented without explanation -- the price is the explanation."

"Thus art has become a venue for the exhibition of money."

ART VALUES OR MONEY VALUES? by Donald Kuspit
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nemo295
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« Reply #71 on: February 12, 2013, 03:31:24 PM »
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People who collect Gursky's photographs or Pollock's drippings aren't collecting art, they're collecting objects, in the same way coin collectors aren't collecting coins because they're valuable as coins but because they're valuable as objects.

In your opinion, Russ. You forgot to add that. No one is going to buy a Gursky or a Pollock who wouldn't love seeing it on their wall. I suspect such collectors regard the art they buy as being both art and an investment.
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WalterEG
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« Reply #72 on: February 12, 2013, 03:50:25 PM »
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Surely the trickle-down effect of art market prices for photography (and any other art for that matter) inures eventually to the snappers who fancy flogging a print or two for a quid or two.

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kencameron
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« Reply #73 on: February 12, 2013, 11:38:23 PM »
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"I am suggesting that the price paid for a work of art becomes its absolute and authoritative value, even if the value the price implies is not particularly clear. It is presented without explanation -- the price is the explanation."

"Thus art has become a venue for the exhibition of money."

ART VALUES OR MONEY VALUES? by Donald Kuspit

A good quote from an interesting article which I enjoyed reading when someone (probably you, Isaac) linked to it on another thread. A reductio ad absurdum of the argument would be that if I don't know what a work of art has sold for, I can't form an opinion as to its merit. Or that galleries should put valuations on all their paintings to help us decide whether we like them. I am not sure Kuspit is saying anything like that. He seems to be talking about how the Art Market works, which is an interesting subject, but IMO not one which entirely displaces aesthetics.
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Isaac
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« Reply #74 on: February 12, 2013, 11:58:31 PM »
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A reductio ad absurdum of the argument would be that if I don't know what a work of art has sold for, I can't form an opinion as to its merit.
We can always guess what was paid for it.

Or that galleries should put valuations on all their paintings to help us decide whether we like them.
If it's only a matter of Like we can defer to Facebook without mentioning art at all.
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jjj
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« Reply #75 on: February 13, 2013, 08:24:18 AM »
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People who collect Gursky's photographs or Pollock's drippings aren't collecting art, they're collecting objects, in the same way coin collectors aren't collecting coins because they're valuable as coins but because they're valuable as objects.
Well this may come as a bit of a surprise to you but some people actually like the work of artists that you do not. And then some of those people who like these artists whose work you sneer at will also purchase what they admire.
Don't forget before art investors which is the term you really should have used [who are quite different from art collectors who do like what they purchase], only invest in art that has become valuable because initially people liked it and then bought it and thus gave it value.
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Tradition is the Backbone of the Spineless.   Futt Futt Futt Photography
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« Reply #76 on: February 13, 2013, 08:50:11 AM »
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To get back to the topic, Eric made a reference to the print's humongus size, without mentioning how large, and Kencameron mentioned he'd reserve his judgement until he'd seen it full-size.
I've seen Gursky's work in the flesh, so to speak and also work by Gregory Crewsdon and seeing full sized prints of their work is very, very different from seeing a much smaller reproduction and they make far more sense then.  Not to mention the fact that reproductions of even smaller prints may not do the image justice. I saw a B&W print of an injured soldier in a Manchester art gallery some years back. Now I'd seen this shot numerous times in magazines, but the actual print [50x30cm] had a depth missed out in reproductions and was far more moving and engaging as a result.
I think it is very hard to judge any artwork until you've actually seen it for yourself, as in my experiences it's like the difference between riding a roller coaster yourself or watching a video of someone else riding one.

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If one accepts the recommended viewing distance from a print as being 1.5x its diagonal, then Gursky's 12ft wide Rhine II should be ideally viewed from a distance of 20ft or more. The sheer size alone makes the print more suitable for wealthy people who can afford to live in mult-million dollar mansions containing at least one huge room.
Nice to see someone put such work into proper context.

Quote
Other issues that occurred to me, simply because of my general interest in photography, are the resolution of this huge print and the type of camera used. If the scene was shot with a single frame from Medium Format film, then the print might appear rather fuzzy from distances closer than 20ft, depending on the type of sharpening applied.

Don't many people, particularly photographers, like to examine large prints from close up? I haven't been able to find any 100% crops of this Gursky print.
Most large images when viewed close, don't look good, but who cares, they are meant to be looked at from a distance and if they look good there, well then they look good. Film and advertising posters look particularly awful when viewed close rather than at their intended distance. Do people moan about Seurat's dots or Van Gogh's brush stokes being a bit coarse when viewed from several centimetres?
Anyway Gursky and Crewsdon both IIRC use 10x8 cameras.

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The general outrage and amazement that such a high price could be paid for something which is essentially a photograph, despite its huge size and the artistic manipulation involved in the processing, is perhaps overblown.
Things that are either scarce or unique have a history of attracting ridiculously high prices, such as rare postage stamps, a pot of gold, or lumps of highly compressed carbon, often referred to as diamonds.
I ask myself, which is more ludicrous, paying $4.7 million for an impressively large print depicting a very peaceful and idealized scene across the Rhine River, which you would rarely find in the real world due to the ever-present dog-walkers, cyclists, pedestrians and occasional factory... or, paying $4.7 million (or more) for a lump of highly compressed and polished carbon which merely glitters, and which is usually locked up in a safe out of sight, for security reasons?
A very sensible perspective.
And also worth bearing in mind that diamonds are not actually that scarce, but the source of nearly all diamonds is a single company who manipulates the market to suit their own profit margins.
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Ray
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« Reply #77 on: February 13, 2013, 10:21:38 PM »
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Well this may come as a bit of a surprise to you but some people actually like the work of artists that you do not. And then some of those people who like these artists whose work you sneer at will also purchase what they admire.
Don't forget before art investors which is the term you really should have used [who are quite different from art collectors who do like what they purchase], only invest in art that has become valuable because initially people liked it and then bought it and thus gave it value.

I think so too. I came across the following analysis in the Economist on this very issue, at http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2012/06/art-market
Here's an extract.

"In a new report entitled “Profit or Pleasure? Exploring the Motivations Behind Treasure Trends”, only a tenth of those questioned said they bought art purely as an investment, whereas 75% cited enjoyment as the key. The study is based on interviews with 2,000 rich people in 17 countries."

If one is buying purely for investment purposes, one doesn't have to like at all the objects one is buying, whether they are coins, stamps, pictures or even houses. However, if what one likes is also considered to be a good or recommended investment, then one has the best of both worlds.
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RSL
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« Reply #78 on: February 14, 2013, 05:08:13 AM »
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Of course they cited enjoyment as the key. What that survey shows is that ten percent of the buyers were honest.
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Ray
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« Reply #79 on: February 14, 2013, 07:57:52 AM »
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Of course they cited enjoyment as the key. What that survey shows is that ten percent of the buyers were honest.

What an interesting concept, Russ, that the wealthy, soulless individuals who buy great works of art without appreciation, liking or understanding of their inherent beauty, at least have the virtue of honesty.  Grin
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