'Cocoon I', 2007 (© Andreas Gursky / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn)
While art cannot be fairly judged on the basis of commercial standing alone, it’s difficult not to be captivated by a photograph with a $3.34 million price tag. Andreas Gursky’s ’99 Cent II Diptychon’ – a two-part, digitally-altered image depicting crammed supermarket aisles – set the record at Sotheby’s in February, 2007, for the highest price ever paid at auction for a single photograph. It was the third from the series of six identical prints to fetch above $2 million.
Gursky, born in 1955 in Leipzig, Germany, is best known for his large-scale landscape, interior and architectural panoramas. The visually arresting compilations are typically populated by multitudinous people or objects, geometrically bewildering documentary snapshots of ordinary life from some extraordinary perspectives.
An exhibition of new work by the artist is currently on show at Matthew Marks Gallery in New York until December 24. The five photographs depict varied scenes, from The Cocoon Club in Frankfurt packed full of revellers, and another with it empty, to hundreds of items hanging almost surreally from the ceiling of a coal mine locker room in Düsseldorf (which is how the miners store their clothes). In another, the artist appears is his first ever self-portrait with his son. The images are all in our gallery above, but for the sheer scale and stunning detail involved, it’s worth the trip over to Chelsea if you're in town.