£4.1 Million Landscape Is World’s Most Expensive Photo Upsets Critics

Peter Lik

The  Australian landscape photographer Peter Lik’s photographic work, ‘Phantom’ is now the most expensive photo in history at an impressive $6.5 million, or £4.1 million. The work is a black-and-white shot of Arizona’s Antelope Canyon, with a piercing column of sunlight appearing like a ghostly figure between the rocky outcropping.

The sale of the photograph was to an anonymous Los Angeles collector, it also included two other photos by the artist: ‘Illusion’, which sold for $2.4 million, or £1.5 million and ‘Eternal Moods’, which fetched $1.1 million, or £700,000. This sale therefore places four of Lik’s works among the top twenty most expensive photos of all time.

The buyer’s representative Joshua Roth of the Glaser Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro, described his client in a press release as “a long-time collector of Lik’s works” who “is delighted to add these one-of-a-kind photographs to his impressive collection.”

But the Guardian described the work as “hollow, clichéd, and tasteless, the black and white shot of an Arizona canyon isn’t art – and proves that photography never will be”.

The publication went on to state: “the record-setting picture typifies everything that goes wrong when photographers think they are artists.” The publication continues stating that Lik’s use of black and white as “outmoded” and “affected.”

Concluding: If this is the most valuable “fine art photograph” in history, God help fine art photography. For this hollow and overblown creation exposes the illusion that lures us all, when we’re having a good day with a good camera – the fantasy that taking a picture is the same thing as making a work of art.”

The previous record was held by German visual artist Andreas Gursky, for his ‘Rhein II’ (1999), a digitally-manipulated colour photo of the River Rhine which fetched $4.3 million, or £2.7 million at Christie’s in 2011, and Cindy Sherman’s ‘Untitled #96’ (1981), a self-portrait of the artist lying on the floor in an orange outfit, sold for a then-record-setting $3.89 million, or £2.4 million – also at Christie’s.

© Artlyst 2014 photo courtesy of Peter Lik all rights reserved


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