So the photographer Kevin Abosch has allegedly sold a black and white photograph of a potato, appearing to hang in space, for the princely sum of €1,00,000. Whilst not the world’s most expensive photograph it’s not a bad price for a picture of the humble ‘spud’. Just because someone has been prepared to pay that price though, does it mean it’s art and is it worth that much?
Let’s look at the second part of that question first. Like it or not, one of the things that makes art sell, and be valuable, is the stature of the artist (how fashionable they are) and how important they are from a historical perspective. Most of the old masters only became famous after their death when their place in history could be better understood. That in turn led to their work becoming more desirable and more valuable. Of course when someone is dead they can no longer create their art and with most art forms they are singularly unique and cannot easily be copied which in itself makes the art more valuable.
In this case the artist is very much alive and what he creates can be copied countless times so the value of the piece would seem to be greatly exaggerated. For some reason however Abosch is fashionable in West Coast America where his clients (Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and venture capitalists) are vain enough as well as rich enough to bestow on him both fame and fortune. Abosch has carved out for himself a nice little niche and is clearly profiting from it greatly.
But is it art, and come to that is any form of photography art? You know what, I don’t care! Often what people mean when they ask this question is, is it good enough to hang in a gallery and be appreciated by lots of people? Why should that be a criteria however? Is it not art if only one person thinks so (and is prepared to pay for it) rather than ten, or a thousand or a million? In fact does anyone have to like something for it to be art or is what Andy Warhol said true: “art is what you can get away with”. If so Abosch seems to have got away with this.
In the meantime please enjoy ‘Fungi #169’.