Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Prices of photographic artists still pretty reasonable

ArtTactic’s latest survey shows confidence in the modern and contemporary photography market is up by an impressive 9 percent, with the most significant and steady rise witnessed at top end of the segment, for photographs priced more than $100,000.

More than 90 percent of experts felt that modern photography prices are only likely to go up, while 34 percent opined that the contemporary photography segment would rise, whereas 66 percent believed they would hold at the current levels in the next six months. In this backdrop, an interesting and insightful article by Kathryn Tully in The Forbes magazine makes the following observations based on expert opinions:
  • The assessment from Ben Burdett of London’s ATLAS gallery is that most years, a new auction record is set for the highest price paid for any photograph, while new auction records for the most coveted artists are set every one to two years, but that prices even for the hottest photographic artists are still pretty reasonable. “Compared to the fine art world, it’s cheap. It’s easy to buy a major name in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
  • According to him, there is a relatively short list of really hot names in the photography market that consistently do well at auction, such as earlier twentieth century photographers like Richard Avedon and Irvin Penn, Helmut Newton, and living artists such as Cindy Sherman and Andreas Gursky.
  • A 1999 Andreas Gursky work, Rhein II, holds the record for the most expensive photograph to be sold at auction after in fetched $4.3 million at Christie’s in November last year. “At auction, you see the same names, and indeed the same images by those photographers, sell again and again. People feel more comfortable joining a party where everyone is already having a good time,” he adds.
  • What he does see, though, is an adjustment taking place in the way that photography and its value is perceived and says there’s much more of an overlap today between modern and contemporary photography and the broader modern and contemporary art market.
  • Big museums are giving more attention to fine art photography, which is certainly increasing its exposure.  The Metropolitan Museum is currently showing Faking It, an exhibition devoted to the history of manipulated photography before the digital age, while in London, The National Gallery has just opened Seduced by Art, its first major photography exhibition, looking at how part and present photographers employ fine art traditions.

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