A digital photograph entitled “Rhein II” by German photographer Andreas Gursky sold for $4.3 million last week at Christie’s New York, setting a new record for the artist and the category.
The realized price far exceeded expectations, which had been between $2.5 to $3.5 million, but competition at the auction was fierce.
Gursky's “99Cent II Diptychon” was the previous record holder for most expensive photograph sold before being dethroned by Cindy Sherman’s “Untitled # 96” at a Christie’s auction last May.
“Rhein II” was taken in the artist’s hometown of Dusseldorf, which lies at the center of the lower Rhine. The large format photograph depicts a spartan stretch of the river that has had all extraneous factors edited out, leaving behind bands of grey and green. It is part of a set of six abstract landscapes that the artist produced centered on the Rhine river.
While some feel the price paid was exorbitant, Francis Outred, head of the postwar and contemporary art at Christie’s European office says, "In my opinion, this price will come to be seen as extremely reasonable."
Writes Florence Waters in the Telegraph, "...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."
(Report: Christine Bolli for ARTFIXdaily)