Rotating Josef was Actual Photograph

From: Richard Sullivan ^lt;>
Date: 03/19/05-12:41:22 PM Z
Message-id: <>


I'm pretty much of a doofer when it comes to gallery prices myself. I was
being kind saying that some digital was sold at the lower level market. I
also actually have seen some high end digital being sold but in very large
prints and in the non-photo ghetto market. There is a big crossover jump
where you end up selling in "real art" galleries rather than in "photo"
galleries. The Photo Ghetto tops out at about $5000.00 and the gap from
there is enormous, that's where the work goes in big time art galleries and
the prices go to 6 figures. This phenomenon is worthy of a master thesis.

Oh, and do I know your feeling about the digital. Last year I was asked to
donate a print for our local art center's auction. I donated the 8x10
platinum of the gas station that is in Christopher James' book and was
printed in View Camera. There is a copy in the Museum of New Mexico and one
in the collection of the Royal Photographic Society. It's not that I am a
big name in the gallery world or anything but this print was relegated to
the back room silent auction and brought down a whoppin $50.00. They didn't
label it as a platinum and there was no data on the image at all even
though I sent a full page description of it. The live auction had three
faux Cunningham magnolia (one I think was an Easter Lily) blossom type
pictures by three different photographers that were estimated at around
$600.00 per and they sold right off at about those prices. They asked for a
another print this year -- ha!

Art is not rational and certainly not art prices. As Judy said about the
Rolex, it has status value. That cannot be ignored in art. Platinum like it
or not has status value and any good image made by hand also has an added
status value because of that.

Nash editions has been selling Iris prints for better than 20 years now and
you rarely see them in the auction catalogs. That says something. Joan
Myers sells her Antarctica digital prints fairly well and she says they
sell better than the pt's. So there are some exceptions.

There is a certain sameness to a lot of the digital work being done. Last
year Olivia Parker showed some of her vintage work and some of her new
digital work. The general consensus from my students was the early work was
sublime, as one student put it. The new work resembled the stuff on the
Photoshop sample disk. Impressive for their manipulation but pretty shallow
in the long run. She also had the prints labeled as "pigment" prints. Josef
Sudek new nickname in heaven is now Rotating Josef.

I found this at:

>Ink based photographic prints are well established as works of art and
>have a long and distinguished history. You can spend enormous amounts of
>money buying one of those original editions, and the photogravures of
>Edward Sherrif Curtis bring high prices at auctions.
>The modern Carbon Ink Print is a unique blend of old and new technologies.

Ah the wondrous unique blend of the old and the new. Omygod, it fries my
gizzard* to even think about how we are linked in the spheres by our Epson
2200 to dear old Alfred!

At least he has the courtesy to call them carbon ink prints and not carbon

*Sorry I had to borrow that!


sAt 01:34 AM 3/19/2005, you wrote:
>Dick Sullivan wrote:
>"I think there is some justified fear that the bad art (digital) will
>out the good, but I am not so sure. There is lots of entry level digital
>work being sold but the not much at the top. The mid to low level
>where the prices top out at $5000.00 seem to sell some but after that
>much sells. Of course the real test of value is in the auction sales. I
>scan the catalogs frequently and see very little on the block."
>Hi Dick,
>You know much more about art markets in general than I do, so I'm not
>meaning to contradict but only to add to your remarks when I say that in
>the market I sell my work in, where photographic work of all kinds
>generally sells for less than $1500, I don't see digital photographic
>prints selling very much at all.
>In the galleries I frequent, the word "giclee" is most often used to
>describe the inkjet reproductions that some painters make of their
>paintings to sell to people who like the painting but can't afford the
>real thing. But these reproductions sell for less than $50, as befits
>machine-printed reproductions. As for digital photographic prints
>selling as well, for the same prices, as "actual photographs," it ain't
>happenin. Even when galleries elide the true nature of the digital
>prints by simply calling them "photographs" they don't seem to sell as
>well. As Kate says, there's often, if not always, a sort of inert
>quality to the inkjet prints that gives them away, even if they don't
>give themselves away with the use of filters or unnatural colors or
>One of the many factors that made me decide I needed to take a break
>from exhibiting my work, three years ago, was that after I worked myself
>into serious exhaustion to get a show on the walls, the next show that
>went up at that gallery was a show of digital photographs, labeled
>simply "photograph" and priced about the same as my handmade, completely
>unique prints. I was very tired at the time so no doubt hypersensitive
>to the comparison, but it really fried my gizzard. I felt, and still
>feel, that the labeling was misleading, and that it's ridiculous to
>price handmade prints and machine made prints in the same range.
>But from a distance of three years, it's easier to have some perspective
>about it. The fact is that most of my show sold, and as I recall only
>one of the digital prints sold; what's more I don't think his work has
>sold well at all over the intervening years. At the same time, I have
>been pursued by that gallery ever since I stopped showing, and have four
>prints in a juried invitational show that's opening there tonight.
>What's more the photographers who were invited to submit work for this
>show, to the best of my knowledge, all print their work photographically
>rather than digitally. I don't think that was a conscious litmus test
>for an invitation; in fact I'm sure it wasn't, but that's just how it
>turned out. So the idea that digital is taking over the photographic
>art market simply isn't true out here in my little neck of the woods.
>The idea that people buy the image not the the object is a nice idea for
>academic discussion but has little to do with how actual art buyers
>think. I'm a buyer of photographs myself and I would never buy a
>machine-printed photograph for the price I might pay for, (yes, I will
>use the phrase) "an actual photograph." I'll buy a poster or a postcard,
>but I'll pay $2 for the postcard or $20 for the poster. I'll know I'm
>getting a machine print, and I'll be happy. But when I spend $200 or
>$300 for a photograph, I expect the print to be made by photographic
>method of one kind or another (I've bought platinum prints, Polaroid
>emulsion transfer; silver gelatin prints) and not by a digital printer.
>And I'd say that it's fairly evident that that I'm not alone in that
>attitude as a buyer. I know that the people who buy my prints value them
>for their handmade quality, and for the mystique of the process, perhaps
>as much as for the image itself. My 2cents,
>Katharine Thayer
Received on Sat Mar 19 13:54:00 2005

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