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Author Topic: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II  (Read 114425 times)

Isaac

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Re: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II
« Reply #60 on: February 12, 2013, 11:19:40 AM »

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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Re: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II
« Reply #61 on: February 12, 2013, 04:31:24 PM »

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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Re: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II
« Reply #62 on: February 12, 2013, 04:50:25 PM »

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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Re: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II
« Reply #63 on: February 13, 2013, 12:38:23 AM »

"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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Ken Cameron

Isaac

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Re: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II
« Reply #64 on: February 13, 2013, 12:58:31 AM »

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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Re: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II
« Reply #65 on: February 13, 2013, 09:24:18 AM »

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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jjj

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Re: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II
« Reply #66 on: February 13, 2013, 09:50:11 AM »

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.

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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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Re: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II
« Reply #67 on: February 13, 2013, 11:21:38 PM »

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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Re: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II
« Reply #68 on: February 14, 2013, 06:08:13 AM »

Of course they cited enjoyment as the key. What that survey shows is that ten percent of the buyers were honest.

Ray

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Re: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II
« Reply #69 on: February 14, 2013, 08:57:52 AM »

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.  ;D
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RSL

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Re: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II
« Reply #70 on: February 14, 2013, 09:12:05 AM »

Hey Ray, there's hardly a single piece of flat art -- current or ancient -- that can't be reproduced almost exactly with advanced giclee techniques. If the producers of those art works were willing to make giclee copies, everybody'd be able to have the visual equivalent of the original Mona Lisa hanging on their walls. It's all about marketing and it's all about investment and it's all about being able to show both your friends and the great unwashed that you have big bucks. Yes, those folks in the ten percent were honest. There may be some among the ninety percent who also appreciate the art for its own sake, but they'd be able to have the same art for a lot less money if it weren't for the "art market" structure.

kencameron

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Re: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II
« Reply #71 on: February 14, 2013, 03:59:03 PM »

....there's hardly a single piece of flat art -- current or ancient -- that can't be reproduced almost exactly with advanced giclee techniques...
Mmm. Giclee, as I understand it, is just a fancy word for inkjet. I would appreciate some documentation (I will also have a look myself). It would have to be a pretty advanced technique, to reproduce the kind of texture you get from the thick application of the paint in many oil paintings. It would also have to be pretty advanced to reproduce the reflectivity of other kinds of paint - eg acrylic. I guess you did say "flat" and "almost exactly", and you might add that the texture of the paint is only part of the story and that composition, iconography and narrative come across just fine. But your claim still seems a bit of a stretch to me, probably based on a lifetime's experience of being almost shocked by the difference when I do get to see the originals of works I have previously seen only in reproduction.
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Ken Cameron

RSL

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Re: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II
« Reply #72 on: February 14, 2013, 04:12:53 PM »

Ken, At the moment I don't have time to dig deeper, but go to http://www.breathingcolor.com/page/giclee-canvas-art-giclee-canvas and check the first paragraph. This reference is pretty superficial, but if you want to dig deeper you'll find that there are giclee techniques that almost exactly reproduce brushstrokes, etc. Let's face it, nowadays with 3d printing we can produce practically anything.

A lot of photographers call their inkjet prints made with pigmented inks "giclee," but real giclee goes way beyond that.

Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II
« Reply #73 on: February 14, 2013, 08:00:17 PM »

"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."
Another interpretation could be that the 75% were honestly admitting that they get a great deal of enjoyment --- out of making profit!
(The quote doesn't specify what kind of enjoyment they were citing.)  ;)
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Ray

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Re: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II
« Reply #74 on: February 14, 2013, 08:03:19 PM »

Ken, At the moment I don't have time to dig deeper, but go to http://www.breathingcolor.com/page/giclee-canvas-art-giclee-canvas and check the first paragraph. This reference is pretty superficial, but if you want to dig deeper you'll find that there are giclee techniques that almost exactly reproduce brushstrokes, etc. Let's face it, nowadays with 3d printing we can produce practically anything.

A lot of photographers call their inkjet prints made with pigmented inks "giclee," but real giclee goes way beyond that.

As I understand, Russ, in order to reproduce the physical 3-dimensionality of subtle layers of oil paint on a canvas, one would need to use the very elaborate processes of the new 3D printing techniques which seem to be mainly used, currently, to reproduce or make molds of 3-dimensional objects like sculptures, teapots, vases and dolls, or thermoplastic molds for manufacturing processes.

It's not clear to me whether the current 3D technology is up to the job of creating the very precise 3D mold of the surface of an oil or acrylic painting, and then transferring the precise shade of color onto each tiny and subtle brush stroke.

The following links show examples of the new 3D technology used for art reproductions. In the case of the reproduction of the Altarpiece of Guimerà, a huge 15th century master piece of a Catalan Gothic painting in Spain, which I assume because it's so huge has a relatively coarse texture, the 3D mold is created first, then a standard inkjet printer is used to print the colors onto a special type of flexible and elastic material called Papelgel which is subsequently applied or glued to the uneven surface of the mold, with great precision.

http://www.guimera.info/avui/Retaule/article.pdf

http://hyperallergic.com/44764/alfred-steiner-erased-schulnik-diptych/

But let's assume that such 3D printing technology will eventually develop, if it hasn't already, to the point where it's possible to reproduce the 3-dimensionality of the most subtle of brush strokes and apply the correct shade of color precisely to each individual brush stroke. Is this any different in concept to what has always been possible with the reproduction of photographic prints?

Even if a photographer claims to have destroyed the negative, or deleted the original RAW or Tiff file so that no more prints can be made, thus hoping to increase the value of the single, or the very few prints he has made, we all know how relatively easy it is to make a high-resolution scan of a flat print, if it's small enough, or in the case of Gursky's Rhine II, photograph the photograph with a high-resolution camera, employing stitching processes if necessary.

This is a point I made on the previous page, which I thought hadn't been addressed and which I repeat below.

"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."

Even if one can discern some subtle differences, using a magnifying glass, it may not be clear which is the original and which is the copy. When people own a valuable diamond they will often have a copy made which looks identical to the original to all but expert jewellers with magnifying glasses. The copy is worn by the lady of the house on special occasions, but the original is kept in the safe and no-one is the wiser.

However, forensic testing, and/or Carbon-14 dating in the case of old paintings, will usually reveal the original.

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Ray

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Re: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II
« Reply #75 on: February 14, 2013, 08:17:20 PM »

Another interpretation could be that the 75% were honestly admitting that they get a great deal of enjoyment --- out of making profit!
(The quote doesn't specify what kind of enjoyment they were citing.)  ;)

Not necessarily, Eric. In order to make a profit, one has to not only buy, but also later sell. If you read the artricle, you'll come across the following comments.

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If buying is generally pleasurable, selling is mostly not.

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“When I don't buy anything, the fair feels dull. Buying makes you feel connected to what is going on.”

Buying art doesn't just offer a sense of community, it engenders feelings of victory, cultural superiority and social distinction. Some say that it even fills a spiritual void. The term most commonly used by collectors, however, is that buying art gives them a “high”. 

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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II
« Reply #76 on: February 14, 2013, 11:34:34 PM »

Not necessarily, Eric. In order to make a profit, one has to not only buy, but also later sell. If you read the artricle, you'll come across the following comments.
 

Ray,

I'll readily admit that I haven't read the article, only the brief initial quote. But the additional quotes you cite still don't give any information about whether the pleasure in buying is in any way related to the esthetic value of the object bought, or simply in anticpation of selling for a profit.

Lots of people buy things thinking they are going to make a bundle when they sell, but then find themselves selling for much less than they expected. Consider the recent housing market mess, for example. I don't see why the same can't happen when buyers overestimate the potential selling price of art that they buy.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II
« Reply #77 on: February 15, 2013, 12:34:10 AM »

Why is it soooo difficult for some of you to accept that there are people who actually like the Rhein II (I do)?

You seem to go to great lengths looking for any other explanation, mostly cynical (investment) or derogatory (stupid rich). Some of you are patronizingly concerned with the longevity or reproducibility of the said piece. The people who pay 4+ millions for a photograph do not have net worth of 5 million, but more likely in the range of 50 to 500 million. If they bought it as an investment, then will sell it in a couple of years, so longevity does not matter to them. If they bought it for enjoyment, they do not care if it is going to fade after they are dead. We live in a throw-away era. We throw away our digital cameras after just a couple of years. Electronics is the new paper handkerchief. So is art produced by that electronics.

SunnyUK

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Re: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II
« Reply #78 on: February 15, 2013, 06:58:15 AM »

Why is it soooo difficult for some of you to accept that there are people who actually like the Rhein II (I do)?

Fair point. I know I'm amongst the cynics who want to lambast people for paying THAT much money for THAT picture. But you're right, it's really their money and their taste, and I'm definitely not the right person to judge them for that.
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Ray

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Re: Andreas Gursky's Rhein II
« Reply #79 on: February 17, 2013, 08:11:26 AM »

Here's my Volga II, if anyone's interested. I can print this 12ft wide or longer, and the price will be significantly less than $4.7 million.  ;D
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