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Brace Yourself...the Most Expensive Photo Ever Sells at Auction for...


"What’s so special about a picture of a river and some grass?"

Record-setting photograph sale at Christies. (Photo: Angreas Gursky)

Stripes of like greys and green compose this photo. The grey of the sky, water and sidewalk are broken up by the horizontal stripes of kelly green grass. To use artistic terms, you could say the photograph by Andreas Gursky is minimalist, understated, carries mournful notes.

But can you guess how much this photo sold for at Christie's auction house? Even if you aimed high and said $1 million, you'd be shooting too low. Try $4.3 million. According to Wired, this set a new record at Christie's for most expensive photo. The previous record holder was Cindy Sherman’s “Untitled #96” for $3.89 million.

Wired has more:

Those unfamiliar with Gursky may be wondering: What’s so special about a picture of a river and some grass? What elevates that photo above so many others? And how did the price get so astronomically high?

Well, for one thing, it’s not uncommon for a Gursky to sell for millions of dollars. His piece 99 Cnet II Diptychon at right also broke records when it was auctioned off for $3.3 million. Also, Gursky is akin to a painter in the way he creates surreal scenes through stitching, and digital manipulation and only makes very limited prints of each work. People are usually less surprised by these types of prices for works by en vogue painters.

Francis Outred, Head of Christie’s Post War and Contemporary Art Department in Europe, says that size and technique also factored in. “Working on an unprecedented scale with outstanding printing techniques and color and grain definition to challenge painting, he has led a group of artists who have re-defined the medium in culture today,” he says.

Another factor appears to be the piece’s rarity. “Of the edition of six, three are in public museums (Moma, Tate, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich), one is with a private museum (Glenstone, Potomac) and only two are left in private collections, of which this is one. In other words this is almost as rare as a one-off painting,” says Outred.

Like all expensive pieces of art, this one even comes with its own bit of controversy. Wired reports an unnamed art gallery professional as saying the high price seems like trending ploy by photographers to drive up costs for their work to brand themselves as "artists."

How much would you have paid for this photo?

[H/T: Hot Air]

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