Imogen Cunningham print on Oprah's tv show

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by nicholas_f._jones, May 28, 2003.

  1. This afternoon's Oprah show had a series of stories about lucky
    finds. One woman had found a mounted b&w picture of plant blooms in
    an antique store and paid 25 cents for it. The label on the back
    identified the photographer as Imogen Cunningham. She took it to
    a/the Weston Gallery where it sold for $60,000, with $50,000 going to
    the lucky lady. It was "Two Callas" (ca. 1925), one of five known
    original prints; there's a beautiful reproduction in Richard Lorenz'
    Imogen Cunningham "Flora" volume, plate 10. Sorry if I missed a
    detail or two here, but I wanted to share since it was so gratifying
    to see one of the masters of our art receiving the national
    recognition she and her work so richly deserve. Not sure about the
    format, but Lorenz' timeline seems to have Cunningham using a 4x5 at
    this time, with the 2 1/4 by 2 1/4 not coming along until 1938.
     
  2. Oprah ? Yikes. Could Ansel appear soon on Springer ? - Ouch.
     
  3. Right, so some moron with $60,000 spends it on a photo that could be copied for $20 - and there are how many people living on the poverty line in the U.S.?
     
  4. So, if you point a camera at a mountain, it's an Adams. If you point a camera at a shell, it's a Weston? I think not. Having seen a Cunningham, it would be a valuable piece of art.

    Now a platter for $20. Maybe.
    Or is that just a liberal rant about the redistribution of wealth?
     
  5. A liberal? Zounds, sirra! You insult me! I am a socialist with leftish leanings...
     
  6. Although i don't agree with Mr Platter on the Value of an original
    Silver Print to be compared with one of a copy , i also don't agree
    with the exceedengly ( spelling ? ) inflated prices that galleries
    and auction Houses give to original silver prints of major
    photographers .
    I have seen mediocres images of masters selling for prices
    that make my heart sink .
    At the same time there is plenty of gorgeous images made by
    living artists that pass unnoticed .
    The world of art has been tainted by these businessmen who
    see art just like another form of investment or as evidence of
    social starus .
    Let's remember that if we see a piece of art in a gallery , the
    author will get in most of the cases 50 % of the paid price .
     
  7. Money is not wealth. It is simply a medium to facility the exchange of wealth. No one is richer or poorer, employed or un-employed because two people met and exchanged pieces of paper. No one is hungry, cold or deprived of shelter because of this transaction.

    Just because two people agree that a photograph is to be valued at $60,000 does not change its intrinsic worth, only its price.

    The only activity that I am aware of that will create wealth producing jobs, is effectively running a business or starting a company, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

    Running a business today is like camel racing. You not only have to outride your competitors, but you have to keep the camel from turning around at a full run, and biting the fool out of you. (In this analogy, the government is the camel).
     
  8. "Money is not wealth. It is simply a medium to facility the
    exchange of wealth. No one is richer or poorer, employed or
    un-employed because two people met and exchanged pieces of
    paper. No one is hungry, cold or deprived of shelter because of
    this transaction."

    That is true , but it is more likely that the person who spends $
    60.00 - $ 480.00 in a photograph has more chances to be a CEO
    or a stock holder of a corporation who use cheap labour in 3rd
    world countries , than being a blue collar worker . or a middle
    class taxpayer with mortgage and schools tuitions .
     
  9. That was $ 60.000 - $ 480.000.....
     
  10. It's really simple: people who are obsessed with wealth (see, I'm not using the 'm' word) would rather exchange their wealth for something that bolsters their status and they don't care what that thing is really worth so long it seems expensive. Some of us, on the other hand, would like to see a 95% tax band for earnings above £100,000 a year (let's be generous and call it $200,000 in the US) so that the poor buggers who actually produce the wealth can have decent health care, schools, police, fire services, roads, armed forces, etc, etc... Personally, I find the sight of some porcine collector paying £60,000 for a photo worth £20 at most, asceticaly repellent.
    005ChO-12992584.JPG
     
  11. "To each according to need, from each according to ability". Eh?

    One of the most elegant ideas every formulated by mortal man. The problem is, it isn’t communism that is defective, it is humanity. Communism has been tried and doesn’t work. Maybe we need to try again in a few thousand years, but certainly not now.

    Limit success and reward, and you destroy initiative. It has been proven empirically.

    One person thinks everything over $100,000 ought to be taxed but the farmer in China probably thinks everything over $300 should. It is a slippery slope. When the results of someone elses efforts and the free exchange of wealth between individules, becomes someone eleses business, is a thorny question.

    I do however, find in interesting that there is so much hostility to industry and the successful on an art forum. Throughout history environments of excess wealth seem to be the only conditions where art flourishes.

    One “environmental” organization publishes a bumper sticker that says: “visualize industrial collapse”. Once that happens, the power and running water fail as a result, and there are no nasty smoke belching trucks stocking the grocery stores, I don’t think many of us will be out taking pictures.

    In a society where industry didn’t make food, clothing, shelter and fresh water a given for any able bodied worker, I don’t imagine you could trade a b&w print for a hot dog, much less sell it for $60,000.
     
  12. As you say, Neal, communism doesn't work.

    Socialism, on the other hand, works very well indeed - ask anyone in western Europe.

    I don't have anything against success, provided everyone is allowed to succeed equally.
     
  13. Well, since this has gotten as off topic as it can be. I read somewhere that anybody who is not a liberal at 20 has not heart, and anybody who is not a conservative at age 40 has no brains. I bet if it was your prints selling at $60,000 each you would not be here whining.
     
  14. Ahhh Capitalism! I love it! Even though my prints aren't worth $20, with capitalism, at least there is hope. Hope is what keeps the fisherman moving to the next pool upstream and the artist in the darkroom working towards excellence.
     
  15. Yes Jorge, but the continuation of that is that if you do not despise both by the time you are 60, you are senile...
     
  16. I have spent quite a bit of time in Sweden. One of my friends there has a neighbor who is a pediatric eye surgeon. He paints and repairs his own house because he can’t afford to hire someone to paint it. This, even though there is a long waiting list of children that need his services. However, the society he lives in doesn’t place a sufficiently higher value on his services than those of a house painter to allow him to work extra hours in surgery and then pay someone to fix his house. (The marginal rate kicks a** over there.)

    Sweden has the best social programs in the world and they are spending 150% per year on them compared to the revenues that they are collecting. The piper will have to be paid sometime.

    My friends in Sweden are all college graduates; I suspect that maybe the house painters have different opinions, as long as they don’t have children who need eye surgery.
     
  17. Better a childrens eye surgeon who can't afford to paint his house (poor thing) than children who can't afford eye surgery.

    Remeber Britain and Germany are also socialist countries...

    "Sweden has the best social programs in the world and they are spending 150% per
    year on them compared to the revenues that they are collecting. The piper will
    have to be paid sometime."

    And the US defecit is how big right now? Heading for $400+ Billion this year. And will be $2 trillion in ten years at that rate. When is that piper goign to be paid... (oh, I see, he's getting a tax cut) ah capitalism! No need to woory about thwether LF film will still be around then - you won't be able to afford it :)
     
  18. Yes Jorge, but the continuation of that is that if you do not despise both by the time you are 60, you are senile...
    Yes, but if you are senile you dont care anymore.....:)
     
  19. Better a childrens eye surgeon who can't afford to paint his house (poor thing) than children who can't afford eye surgery.
    If the surgeon is out there painting his house instead of operating doesnt that amount to the same thing?
    Doesnt this sound irrational to you? that a surgeon who has the skill and training is out there painting house instead of saving eyes?
    you might complain that in the US medicine is too expensive, well I rather it be expensive and good, than cheap of free and have the doctor being an expert at house painting. Face it, you have the best medical service in the world and when you are sick I am sure you think expense is a secondary thing, you want the best. No?
    Look, I now live in a semi socialist country and let me tell you, nothing changes, those of us who still want the best for our health still pay out the nose, I am sure it is the same in Sweeden. There has got to be a private clinic there which is very expensive but has the best and most readily available service.
    Lets talk about taxes, americans complaint every year about paying their taxes, imagine if your tax was the same as Sweeden (70%)! Another good example is here in Mèxico, payroll tax is 35% here, sales tax (VAT) 15% on everything excluding food and medicine, Licence plate and "tenencia" is up to 10% of the value of the car every year, land tax, etc, etc. Let me tell you socialism sounds very good, until you are living it.
     
  20. Harvey, shame on you for having a computer. Sell it & support 42 Ethiopians for 6 months. Then sell your watches & car & support more poor people.
    Yes, it is difficult at times to understand value, but the print was worth what was paid for it. Just as a Renior is. After most of us are long gone, Art will be left in its many guises. It is what we turn to in attempting to learn about the past. In many cases even more so than the archaeological finds left behind. Art is mans accomplishments in tangible form,whether on cave walls, chapel ceilings or small prints in an antique store.
    Sell your stuff & support the poor & be blessed, but let the rest of us photograph & try to do what we can our own way.
     
  21. It's funny how everyone reads into other people's posts what they want to see rather than what's there.

    I never wrote that I wanted everyone to be poor - just that I want everyone to be equally rich. As to the story of the Swedish eye surgeon who has to paint his own house, well, I rather suspect we're not getting the whole story there.

    Then there's Jorge writing from Mexico and complaining about paying 35% income tax and 15% VAT - why? I don't know that much about Mexico but I assume it has state schools, a police force, an army, hospitals, roads, a customs service...

    We're all socialists now, even those bastions of capitalism in the U.S. I hear on the BBC that Dubyah has plans to cap Medicaid only he can't get them through either Congress or the Senate because none of them will vote for a measure that means they'll get thrown out of office at the next election.

    I love this sort of thread, it drives so many people nuts...
     
  22. I can’t agree more about a concern for the deficit, however the trade deficit is the one that concerns me most. All we have to do to fix the budget deficit is reduce the size of government. To reduce the trade deficit we will have to rebuild industries that we have shipped offshore.

    Americans are consuming more tangible wealth than they produce. My grandfather’s generation would call that sloth and license. Part of that is caused by the idea that the pollution that creates wealth is all right as long as it is in someone else’s back yard. If we closed the borders to imports and Americans had to live within their means, they would drill Alaska till it looked like some giant Swiss cheese.

    As to socialism working, when you say Sweden you think Volvo and Hasselblad. Volvo is now owned by Ford, and a company that took Victor Hasselblad and many others a lifetime of hard work to build, is now reduced to sticking a label that says “Hasselblad” on their flag ship camera. Turn it over and you find the official “country of origin” is “Japan”. That is the result of putting employee benefits ahead of research, development tooling and customers. In the end it doesn’t even help the employees.
     
  23. mind you, we would probably be much better off in a society that paid artists more than doctors and lawyers
     
  24. "Remeber Britain and Germany are also socialist countries"

    Ermmm tim, have you been on the funny cigaretes again? Blair's Britain? Socialist? He may be a twit with his head so far up Bush's a*** he can brush dubya's teeth from the inside, but there's no need to be THAT insulting... Britain continues to lurch ever rightwards (but not as far as the Tories - that would be just plain silly!).
     
  25. I don't know that much about Mexico but I assume it has state schools, a police force, an army, hospitals, roads, a customs service...
    Seems to me that is the problem, talking about things you dont know much about.
     
  26. Ah, Jorge, ever willing to slip in a snide comment. Tell, me, when are you going to get around to posting some piccies or even (gasp) paying your dues for this site...

    :)
     
  27. "As to the story of the Swedish eye surgeon who has to paint his own house, well, I rather suspect we're not getting the whole story there."

    It says a lot for mankind that there are those of you out there that would work overtime for 5% of your regular pay, for the benefit of society. I can’t even get people to work overtime for time and a half.

    However, your utopia will not work for long because while all of you are working overtime, I am going to be out playing with my toys. Just out of pure cussedness, I am going to do it where you can see me.

    Pretty soon the less altruistic of you will ask your self: “why do I do all the work, while Neal has all the fun”, and you will be out there to.

    That is why socialism, doesn’t raise all boats, it brings them down to the same level.

    I might add, the Swedish people are the nicest, most socially conscious, concerned society that I have ever visited. They obey the law not from fear of getting caught but because they feel it is the right thing to do. There are only about 9 million of them, and they are well educated, and have the same values. If it doesn’t work there, it won’t work anywhere.

    I had a different Swedish friend that spent his college years in the U.S.; tell me that if we implemented their programs here, everyone would just quit working.
     
  28. Erm, I may be missing something... "Nicest", "most socially conscious", "obey the Law", "well educated".... erm... and this is a society that is "not working"?....

    Oh, and as members of the European Union, Swedish people can choose to work in any member state country without restriction, so the fact the doctor in question chooses to continue to live in his native country probably says something about how well Sweden has got the balance right - even if you do have to do your own DIY...
     
  29. Ah, Jorge, ever willing to slip in a snide comment. Tell, me, when are you going to get around to posting some piccies or even (gasp) paying your dues for this site...
    I don't post piccies as you call them, I don't do critiques and I don't download images, I confine myself to the use of the forums which were always meant to be free. Since I don't use PN in any other way I don't feel I have to pay for something it was designed as a free exchange from the beginning. If you comment was meant as a put down you are barking up the wrong tree, I know the history of the forums and how they ended up here, another thing you apparently don't know anything about. :)
    So you admit not to know anything about Mexico and socialist countries, why are you upset?
     
  30. Ah, poor little Jorge. Actually, I was curious to see how you reacted to a personal attack, as you seem so comfortable in handing them out.

    Frankly, your reply seems pretty typical of a person who is worried by the idea of socialism - you just want to take without giving. What a truly sad world it would be if the vast majority of people didn't think differently from you. Well, I'm not your keeper and wouldn't want to be and I know that flame wars upset the moderators so I'll just leave you to your own devices.
     
  31. Harvey, You troll. Go away. Go to some gray place where everyone is as miserable as you.
     
  32. I'm not in the least bit miserable, nor am I trolling. I simply made a comment that someone took issue with in a not very pleasant manner and I replied in kind to see what he'd do.

    Why is it that people get so upset when the facts are pointed out to them?
     
  33. Frankly, your reply seems pretty typical of a person who is worried by the idea of socialism
    LOL....as I said, I live in one, you on the other hand seem to be talking without any knowledge. As to attacks, I just agreed with you, you don't know anything about Mèxico or a socialist country, so your opinions about a socialism are easy to ignore.
    Funny things is you live in a country where the majority of the people DO think like me.
    You are correct about not being my keeper, you don't have the wherewithal to be and I am glad you will leave me to my devices, seems is the only thing you can do. Cheers....
     
  34. “Cunningham empowered her images by isolating her subject; she minimized the background, expanded scale with close-up scrutiny, and formalized presentation. …An emphasis on clarity, form, and definition displaced her previous use of pictorialist space.” Richard Lorenz, Imogen Cunningham, Flora, 1996, p. 12.

    I think these words describe “Two Callas” exactly. The picture is pure form—contrast, texture, and contour. (Let’s assume that I’ve identified correctly the print that Oprah flashed momentarily across the screen when I just happened to be walking by the television in our bedroom). Only incidentally is the picture a record of calla lilies. This was the photographer who, according to Lorenz (p. 17), cultivated the exotic in her plant subjects, and never even photographed a rose! But California is not only the land of roses, it was also, if my and Marilyn’s memories serve us well, the land of calla lilies. I recall the calla as a very common so-called foundation planting which anyone could afford (here in the northeast you see it only in religious services, etc.). Cunningham avoided a clichéd image by turning her subject into pure form.

    De gustibus non disputandum, but as I look over Lorenz’ three volumes of Cunningham’s work I can’t help but think that “Two Callas” is one of her more successful efforts. Take a look at it, and judge for yourself. Any photographic print authenticated as Cunningham’s is going to be worth a lot, but I think this one could hold its own on intrinsic merit alone. Modernism may be out of fashion as an architectural aesthetic, but it’s still very much with us in other areas—at least that’s how I personally size things up at present.

    What’s a photograph worth? I agree with the view that it’s worth what people are willing to pay for it. According to Oprah’s presentation, the woman who collected the $50,000 from the gallery used the money to put a down payment on a (very modest) house for her and her family. The $10,000 fee helped the gallery keep going. The story on national television promoted the reputation of a great American artist. As for the purchaser, would we have been happier if he or she had bought a Mercedes, or a yacht, or more house than anyone ever needed? I fail to see any losers here. If we’re going to critique the American economic system, why start with LF photography?
     
  35. "I fail to see any losers here. If we’re going to critique the
    American economic system, why start with LF photography?"

    Well, Imogen Cunningham for one (or in this case, I guess the Imogen Cunningham Trust - but imagine for a monent she was still alive) - I'm all for instituting the system whereby artists receive a percentage on third party sales of their work.

    tim
     
  36. "American economic system"...

    Why does the word 'oxymoron' drift across my mind?
     
  37. Tim,

    You're right. As so often, the artist is the loser, while others profit off her creations. Writers (as well as their publishers) have been victimized by copy machines for decades now. Same for sheet music. Not to mention the current cyber theft of the creative works of composers and musicians. The Ansel Adams trust seems to have things under control, but for every such posthumous winner how many losers are there? As for your plan, how would you enforce it?
     
  38. "As for your plan, how would you
    enforce it?"

    I bel;ieve it's the law in France - read something on it a while back. I can't remeber all the details, but it seemed emminently sensible.

    Certainly at auction (not sure about other sales), once the sales become "third party (i.e. sales after the original one by the artist to the first buyer) the original artist receives a percentage of the sale
     
  39. I beleive California has a similar law where the artist gets 5% of the third party sale, but this relies on self reporting, somehow I doubt this has been enforced.

    Frankly this has all come about due to "limited editions" and is the reason some galleries love the "limited edition" game and try to force photographers into doing it. Once the edition has reached its limit, galleries can swap and trade prints if they have a customer willing to pay big bucks for a print, thus leaving the photographer out of the game.
     

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