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Here you can find a collection of (hopefully) usefull informations about Fine Art Photography, and collecting photographs. The texts were first published on <The Constant Photographer> blog of Chris Dematté.

UNDERSTANDING THE MARKET FROM DAGUERROTYPE TO GICLÉE A/P, B.A.T., 3/25 - WHAT'S IN A SIGNATUR
MORE MONEY THAN SENSE? BUY WHAT YOU LOVE... WHAT TO LOOK FOR...
TAKING CARE YES, IT IS ART. FROM SILVER TO SILICON
HOW PHOTOGRAPHY LEARNED
  ABOUT DYING
MY (VIRTUAL) COLLECTION SO MANY BOOKS, SO LITTLE TIME
A POTATO AS A PROXY FOR THE ONTOLOGICAL STUDY OF THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE COLLECTING ICONS
 
 
COLLECTING ICONS
 

At the latest photo auction at "Westlicht" in Vienna one could find quite a lot of interresting photographs to collect (and actually for quite reasonable prices). Some of the photographs sold there are real "Icons", well know, often published pictures of famous events or made by (now) famous photographers. I highly recommend to bookmark the Westlicht auction house, they are hosting photo auctions and camera auctions twice a year and from the cataloges you can learn a lot about trends in collecting (e.g. it is quite interesting that some photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson didn't find a buyer).
Here are some "Icons" from the November 2016 auction:


JOE ROSENTHAL (1911–2006) Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, 1945
Vintage silver print, printed in the 1950s.
20,5 x 17,4 cm; Signed (the signature was added later) by the photographer in ink in the margin
Hammer price (Incl. buyer's premium): € 24.000
 


JEWGENI CHALDEJ (1917–1997) Soviet Flag over Reichstag, Berlin 1945
Gelatin silver prints, printed in the 1990s, 20,5 x 29 cm
Signed by the photographer in pencil on the reverse
Hammer price (Incl. buyer's premium) € 1.920

 

ALFRED EISENSTAEDT (1898–1995) ‘V-J Day Kiss in Times Square’, New York 1945
Gelatin silver print, printed in the 1970s, 31,8 x 22,8 cm
Signed by the photographer in ink in the margin, his “PHOTO BY ALFRED EISENSTAEDT” stamp on the reverse.
PROVENANCE: Eisenstaedt Family Estate; the print was gifted by the photographer to a family friend, who later returned it to the family .
Hammer price (Incl. buyer's premium) € 48.000
 

ELLIOTT ERWITT (* 1928) ‘The Kitchen Debate’ (Nikita Khrushchev, Richard Nixon), Moscow July 24th, 1959
Vintage silver print, 23,6 x 35,4 cm
Hammer price (Incl. buyer's premium) € 6.000
 

DENNIS STOCK (1928–2010) James Dean on Times Square, New York 1955
Gelatin silver print, printed in the 1960s, 35 x 23,5 cm
Photographer's agency stamp and handwritten neg. no. in ink and pencil on the reverse
Hammer price (Incl. buyer's premium) € 38.400
 

ROBERT CAPA (1913–1954) Leon Trotsky lecturing, Copenhagen 1932
Gelatin silver print, printed in 1964, 22,2 x 34 cm
Photographer’s agency stamp, “IMAGES OF WAR - 1964” publication stamp and handwritten neg. no. in pencil on the reverse.
Hammer price (Incl. buyer's premium) € 2.280
Capa's first ever publishe photograph...
 
First published December 3, 2016 at The Constant Photographer
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A POTATO AS A PROXY FOR THE ONTOLOGICAL STUDY OF THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE
 

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
[Albert Einstein]

What we have: A photograph of a potato, titled Potato #345. Made by "celebrity photographer" Kevin Abosch. In my opinion quite a bad photograph, technical and in a creative manner. This photograph was sold recently for $1.08 million. Is a photograph of a potato worth a million dollars? That’s not for you or me to decide, ultimately. It’s for the buyer. But it is a prime example how crazy the art market can go from time to time (not to talk about collectors) - the art market has been operating at borderline insanity levels, price-wise, for decades. Or, as one commentator stated: "It's what happens when the inmates are in charge of the asylum".

The One-Million-Dollar-Potato
 
Kevin Abosch is not the first photographer making pictures of vegetables. Actually every student of photography has to do such exercises in his first term at art college. Great photographers like Edward Weston made a lot of them (though not of potatoes). You can get one of his famous Pepper #30 vintage prints for around $15,000 at the moment. But ok, it only took Weston 30 tries to get his famous photo. Potato #345 is the result of an order of magnitude more effort. But just imagine the collection of really good photographs you could put together for $1.08 Million...

Pepper #30 by Edward Weston

 

Maybe the buyer of Potato #345 was convinced by the profound philosophical thoughts of the „artist“: "[...] potato as a proxy for the ontological study of the human experience. I see commonalities between humans and potatoes that speak to our relationship as individuals within a collective species ... Generally, the life of the harvested potato is violent and taken for granted." If so that would at least proof that Einstein was right...

 

The whole story is, for me as an artist, not very funny. Others found at least some comical aspects in this story: In a comment somebody noted: "I'm just disappointed the potato photo wasn't an autochrome*. And just wondering: can one distill vodka from autochrome prints?"

* Autochromes, an early color process developed by the Lumière brothers in France, were made using potato starch.
 
Potatoes #1 by Chris Dematté. Get six potatoes for half the price of Abosch's Potato #345... ;-)
 
First published January 29, 2016 at The Constant Photographer
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