Monday, November 14, 2011

I have been doing it all wrong

Duck 1
Cate is now in Istanbul – staying in the ‘Swissôtel The Bosphorus’ which is a pretty snappy hotel – or would be if you were on a holiday and able to enjoy it - but in her case the only time she sees the hotel room is late at night when she gets back from her endless meetings.

Anyway it is my favourite hotel and does just about the best breakfast anywhere we have ever been - and there are a couple of chefs who will do your eggs any which way you like and you can have an omelette and have any damn thing you please in it.

But unfortunately this time she is there and I am here and in a couple of days she will back for a few hours and then will be in Delhi and then Mumbai.

It’s starting to get really cold so I have turned on the floor heating in the guest bathroom and that is where the cats spend most of their time now - even when I light the fire – which we do not really need - but I am one of those people who thinks that you cannot really be in Europe in winter and not have a fire. However – there is not point in having a fire without cats in front of it so I will have to re-think my strategy about the guest bathroom.

Now I have been having some thoughts about my photography and have realized that I am going about it the wrong way if I want to be successful. This was prompted by the sale of the attached photograph for €2.7 million – making it the most expensive photograph in the world.

The story in the Times says (in part)

A drab and largely featureless picture of a river has just become the most expensive photograph in the world, selling for $4.3 million (£2.7 million) at auction in New York, prompting raptures in the art world and a great deal of confusion among the general public.
Rhein II, a photograph of the Rhine taken by the German artist Andreas Gursky in 1999, had been valued by Christies at up to $3.5 million. On Tuesday night one buyer thought it even more valuable.

Rhein II is one of six photographs taken of the Rhine at an unspecified location. The artist described it as a “particular place with a view over the Rhine which has somehow always fascinated me, but it didn’t suffice for a picture as it basically constituted only part of a picture.”

For those outraged at the thought that a snap shot of a river could have such a price tag, it may be some consolation to know that Gursky put considerable thought into the photograph. He pondered the problem for some time, carrying “this idea for a picture around with me for a year and a half”.
The solution, it appears, was to strip it down further, until it almost resembled the work of an abstract painter. “In the end I decided to digitalise the pictures and leave out the elements that bothered me,” he said.

Gursky, 55, who grew up in Dusseldorf, is usually known for dazzling, richly detailed images portraying aspects of globalisation and commercialism.

“Space is very important for me but in a more abstract way,” he said. “Maybe to try to understand not just that we are living in a certain building or in a certain location, but to become aware that we are living on a planet that is going at enormous speed through the universe. I read a picture not for what’s really going on there, I read it more for what is going on in our world generally.”

Some viewers looking at Rhein II might wonder if the answer to this metaphysical question was: “not much”.

Christie’s, however, offered some basic instructions on how to look at the world’s most expensive photograph. Viewers were “not invited to consider a specific place along the river, but rather an almost ‘platonic’ ideal of the body of water as it navigates the landscape”.

So clearly my photos need some work if they are going to become commercially viable. I have decided that the way forward is to strip the ducks out of my duck pictures – making them effectively duckless. 

The first of these is shown today. This will be part of a limited edition of duckless prints which will be available at my first show. 


  1. Have you thought of rearranging ("digitalizing the picture") the leaves? All in one or two neat rows could bring a few more cool millions. ;-)

  2. I say rearrange the leaves to give a bit of a hint of a duck image.

    My solution to the cats in the wrong place is glue. If that doesn't work then try turning off the fire where they like to be and then they may possibly join you by the fireplace.

    I figure my collection of 10,000 photos could/should/would theoretically put me in the Warren Buffet range of zillionaires. Definitely in the 0.0000001 Percent. Occupy Christies.

    WordVeri: faran - the opposite of fire off and in some instances of drug induced slur, "far out".

  3. who are these ppl that have such disposable income as to pay that many millions for a picture of water? i mean, i love water, but i could actually fly myself TO the ocean and take my own picture, blow it up as big as i wanted, frame it, and have it professionally installed for WAY less than millions of dollars...

    as to the might have to turn off the bathroom floor when you want them to join you by the fire. then take a picture of it. then digitally take the cats out. million dollar picture! ; )

  4. A river with a bike path. WTF ever.

  5. I read an article about this couple and their art work, they were very innovative and one piece was a sketch done by someone at a museum and crumpled up and thrown away. They rescued and framed the crumpled scrap and proudly display it.

    I have been drawing and crumpling myself, in hopes of being discovered.

  6. Good grief! I've been doing it wrongly too. what about a duck shaped hole in the duckless photo? Sometimes I think 'artiste' should be spelled 'wanker'.

  7. esbboston:
    No, no need to "occupy Christie" - it's way easier the old-fashioned way: Create something that resonates with someone to the tune of a few bucks, or more. ;-)

  8. I have a few mistakes like that one in my image collection as well.

    I'd happily sell them to discerning art collectors for the bargain price of 2 for $1 million.

    Contact me: and we'll come to an arrangement.

    Badger: I hope that you call your piece "what the duck".

  9. Merisi:Perhaps I should take out the leaves - and the grass.

    esbboston: The only place to glue them would be the kitty litter.

    carmar76: People with LOTS of money. The problem with the bathroom floor is it takes hours to warm up and cool down so careful planning is needed.

    SK Waller: I don't think it's supposed to make any sense.

    fmcgmccllc: You may have to do it somewhere outside China.

    Sandy: You are just jealous that your imagoes have not captured the attention of a rich admirer.

    nzm: I think we are not looking at with an appropriately discerning eye.

  10. I wonder what your no-actual-duck-included Duck Soup would taste like. Glue? Leaves? Litter de Chat?

    Merisi: I will get busy writing a resonating sonata

    Word Veri: gusteriz - a common name in Latin America. It means "Sudden winds that blow across a certain Great Lake" ,,, oops, sorry, that needs an uppercase G.