The 10 most expensive photographs ever sold

First, a quick apology for the slow pace of posts on eyecurious over the past few weeks. Post frequency will be returning to normal very soon. In the meantime, here is a little slice of photographic miscellanea that made my jaw drop. Below is a list of the 10 most expensive photographs of all time. Have a quick look through and see if there is a name that stands out.

  1. Andreas Gursky, 99 Cent II Diptychon (2001), $3,346,456, February 2007, Sotheby's London auction. 
  2. Edward Steichen, The Pond-Moonlight (1904), $2,928,000, February 2006, Sotheby's New York auction.
  3. Dmitry Medvedev, Kremlin of Tobolsk (2009), $1,750,000, January 2010, Christmas Yarmarka, Saint Petersburg.
  4. Edward Weston, Nude (1925), $1,609,000, April 2008, Sotheby's New York auction.
  5. Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe (Hands) (1919), $1,470,000, February 2006, Sotheby's New York auction.
  6. Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe Nude (1919), $1,360,000, February 2006, Sotheby's New York auction.
  7. Richard Prince, Untitled (Cowboy) (1989), $1,248,000, November 2005, Christie's New York auction.
  8. Edward Weston, Nautilus (1927), $1,082,500, April 2010, Sotheby's New York auction.
  9. Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey, 113.Athènes, T[emple] de J[upiter] olympien pris de l'est (1842), $922,488, 2003, auction.
  10. Gustave Le Gray, The Great Wave, Sete (1857) $838,000, 1999.

(Source: the modern day Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia)

No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you (although Wikipedia may very well be): Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian President, is second only to Gursky and Steichen for this view of the Kremlin Tobolsk.

Admittedly he achieved his tidy $1.75 million sale price at a charity auction where Putin had previously managed to sell this masterpiece for the puny sum of $1.14 million, but should we be reconsidering Medvedev's standing as a photographer? After his recent address to the Russian people on the subject, perhaps we should.

The photographers' cookbook

I have just received a couple of emails from students at Falmouth University in the UK. Instead of the usual print auction to fundraise for their end of year show they have come up with something a little different: they are producing a cookbook with recipes by a pretty solid selection of contemporary photographers (Alec Soth, Elina Brotherus, Richard Misrach, Martin Parr, etc.). I think this is kind of great and proof that the future of photobooks although uncertain, is definitely not getting any less surprising. Find out more (and buy yourself a copy) here.

Plastic, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways

Megumi Tomomitsu Megumi Tomomitsu is fond of the plastic bag. She has even compiled a pretty exhaustive list of reasons why. For someone (and somehow I think I am not alone here) who stores hundreds of the things for absolutely no discernable reason, this interests me. Thinking about it, I probably own more plastic bags than photobooks, than items of clothing, than pretty much anything actually. Thank you Megumi, you have convinced me that I should learn to love my plastic bags, or at least to set them free.


4th of July 1951

After a period of overuse I barely give Flickr a glance any more. The proliferation of animated gif 'awards' for best-super-duper-gr8est-pic-ever that get handed out to anything that is posted and the intricate descriptions of what kind of strobe lights were used to take some of the world's most boring images just makes me want to run a mile. To use an analog analogy, I think you have to have a crate-digger of great skill and patience to find the good stuff on Flickr (Mrs Deane is among the best that I know of).

But once in a while Flickr does throw something pretty unexpected at you. The level of detail that goes into these photographs by Michael Paul Smith is pretty astounding. Models fascinate a number of contemporary photographers (Thomas Demand, Naoya Hatakeyama, Naoki Honjo) and while I don't think Murphy is driven by the same motivations, there is something inherently fascinating about this kind of photographic 'illusion'. Check out the full set here, complete with mustachioed 'behind the scenes' evidence.