WHAT IS FINE ART
A closer look at this rapidly
THE CURATOR'S EYE
Curator Kevin Moore weighs in
on the how-to's of collecting
TAKE THE TOUR
Christie's expert Sara
Friedlander shares seven
artists you need to know, now
In the 1970s, a loosely knit group of artists emerged who were inspired by a
range of ideas and imagery including Conceptualism, popular culture and
mass media. Known as the Pictures Generation, they abided by the notion
that "painting was dead" and chose to pursue new sources of media, from
photography and film to video and installation art. Appropriating from the
bombardment of imagery surrounding them, their works tackled issues
of memory, identity and perception, as well as society’s influence on the
development of these themes.
Their work has become known as "fine art photography."
Cindy Sherman, Louise Lawler, Richard Prince, Thomas Struth and Andreas
Gursky are among the preeminent fine art photographers who use the camera
as a means to an end for their artistic practices. While their formal and stylistic
concerns vary greatly, these artists share a common approach to the camera.
Instead of a device for scientific, commercial, or journalistic purposes, the
camera is a tool through which to document complex aesthetic ideas through
careful control of composition, focus, lighting, posing and editing.
The story of fine art photography is still being written, making this a particularly
thrilling time for prospective collectors, longtime devotees, and the culturally
curious to explore this rich and dynamic field.
Last Art that "Hooked" Him:
"A video by James Nares at the
Met called Street
, a mesmerizing
slow-motion pan of people on the
street. It’s a slow-moving tableau
of humanity, a study in slowing
down and seeing what’s all
indie bands singing in English.’"
"A summer show
called ‘Alchemical’ that I’m
curating for the Steven Kasher
Gallery in New York."
Follow Kevin on Instagram:
Specialist and Head
of Afternoon Sale, Post-War and
First Art that "Hooked" Her:
Van Gogh’s Wheat Field with
, at age 3. "I started
crying hysterically and screamed,
‘Oh grandma, that’s so scary!’
The guard at the Met asked us to
by Louise Lawler."
"Hong Kong, Venice
and Basel, then the Berkshires for
a much-needed vacation."
Follow Sara on Twitter:
INDEPENDENT CURATOR KEVIN MOORE RECENTLY CHATTED WITH
OUR OWN SARA FRIEDLANDER ABOUT THE EXPANDING DEFINITION
OF "PHOTOGRAPHY," THE HOW-TO’S OF COLLECTING, AND WHAT
MORE TO EXPECT OF THE MEDIUM IN THE DIGITAL AGE.
SF: What is it about photography that first captured
KM: I’ve always loved photography for its selfcontradicting
ability to show both realism and fantasy.
SF: What distinguishes the work of fine art
photographers and what do you think this means in the
context of contemporary art?
KM: When you look at the work of artists like Cindy
Sherman or Jeff Wall, for example, it has to do
with the complexity of thought behind an image. In
the beginning, photography was about capturing
something specific – a decisive moment, an urban
scene, a picturesque landscape – but today we look
to photography for more layers of meaning. We expect
ambiguity and commentary. We live in a questioning
age, and photography increasingly reflects that.
SF: What basic advice do you tell your clients
when they first start to collect?
KM: Try first and foremost to understand
your own tastes and interests. Who are you
in relation to the world around you? Do you
like minimal architectural environments?
Provocative and/or funny pop culture stuff?
Exquisite beauty? Powerful ideas? And then
you have to answer more specific questions,
such as: Who are the best artists? What are
their best works? And then the more nuts and
bolts questions, such as: What is the edition
size? Are there other editions and what is the
most appropriate scale for a given image?
All of this is easier, obviously, if you take some
time in the beginning to figure out what it is
you most love.
SF: Collectors often ask me about the value
of a photograph versus a painting, as there
are so many factors to consider.
KM: It’s certainly about quality, which has
something to do with the complexity of the
artist’s ideas, but perhaps more importantly,
the fineness of the execution. Even when an
artist such as Richard Prince appropriates
another image and calls it his own, the
success depends on the beauty of the
original image and Prince’s treatment of it.
And the rarity of an image determines value
too, of course. How many prints were in the
edition? Is it sold out? Are other prints placed
in museums, etc.? It isn’t an exact science but
these are all clues.
SF: What should new collectors know about
the care and handling of photographs,
especially given contemporary approaches
to mounting, framing, etc?
KM: Photographs aren’t necessarily "fragile"
but they are works on paper and paper is
sensitive to light damage: fading, curling,
etc. Color photographs, especially before a
certain vintage – let’s say the mid-1990s –
are especially vulnerable and should be kept
out of direct sunlight. Large prints by Struth
and Gursky are often face-mounted, which
is a beautiful form of presentation but comes
with its own problems: if the surface of the
plexi is scratched, the artwork is considered
seriously damaged. So you want be sure you
have the right environment for taking care of
photographs – a space with some light and
SF: How important is the amount of digital
manipulation that a photographer uses,
and should collectors consider this when
evaluating a work?
KM: Digital manipulation is a useful tool and
no different really than the old practices of
dodging and burning, montage, combination
printing, etc. The choice for an artist to go
digital or not digital is not a moral decision.
ANDREAS GURSKY (B. 1955)
136 1/2 x 98 3/4 in. (340.9 x 249.4 cm.)
Executed in 2010. This work is number four from an edition of six.
"The choice for an artist to go digital or not digital is not a moral decision."
SF: The medium has evolved dramatically
in its short existence (compared to
painting). What’s next?
KM: Everyone’s throwing around this word
"expansion" and I’m as guilty as anyone,
but it’s a useful way of thinking about it:
photography is breaking out of its old
forms as a single picture on the wall and
becoming series and installations and
moving images and hybridized images.
The boundaries are blurring between photo
and the other mediums, and you might say
between photo and the world, as we live
more and more in virtual spaces – in front
of screens, with headphones, and with
more interactive technologies.
SF: What is your favorite work from
Christie’s upcoming May sales?
KM: I love Struth’s humanity, all those
awkward tourists in those sublime spaces.
The Gursky Ocean is unusual and powerful,
very romantic, epic, which is my own
personal thing. And who doesn’t love
Cindy? But I’m really fond of the Sherrie
Levine series after Van Gogh, not so much
for her idea of appropriation as for the Van
Goghs. Even in black and white they’re
compelling. And you can have two great
artists in a single work – good value. And try
getting a real Van Gogh.
MEET THE CURATOR: KEVIN MOORE
Kevin is a scholar and curator of both museum exhibitions and private collections. He earned a Ph.D. in art
history in 2002 from Princeton University and has worked in curatorial departments at the Metropolitan
Museum of Art and the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University. His recent exhibitions include Real to Real:
Photographs from the Traina Collection (de Young Museum, San Francisco, 2012) and Starburst: Color
Photography in America 1970-1980 (Cincinnati Art Museum, 2010).
Every movement has it
trailblazers – the Cubists
had Picasso, AbEx had Pollock and de Kooning,
and Pop, of course, had Andy. In the world of
fine art photography, here are seven artists who
have consistently challenged the boundaries of
the medium and, as specialist Sara Friedlander
explains, changed the course of art history,
one picture at a time.
TAKE THE TOUR
"A pioneer of the Pictures Generation,
Sherman was among the first artists to work
as a one-woman studio - director, actor,
photographer, customer, set designer,
lighting specialist, and make-up artist -
expertly controlling and executing every
portion of her creative concept. Untitled
#85 comes from her Centerfolds series
created in response to the spreads made
famous in Playboy. Performing the role of an
emotionally suggestive yet ambivalent teen,
here she reclaims the layout where women
were traditionally sexualized."
"Struth’s Audience series investigates
the individual and collective experience
of viewing art in the context of museums
around the world. My favorite part of this
work is the mother-daughter pair at right,
which captures the child-like emotions
we have all felt in front of a work of art
– confusion, wonderment, sometimes
boredom. This work is being sold by the artist
directly to benefit the incredible Human
PROPERTY SOLD ON BEHALF OF HUMAN
THOMAS STRUTH (B. 1954)
Audience 2, Florence, 2004
chromogenic print face mounted on Plexiglas
71 1/8 x 92 1/2 in. (180.6 x 234.9 cm.)
Executed in 2004. This work is number one from
an edition of ten.
CINDY SHERMAN (B. 1954)
24 x 48 in. (60.9 x 121.9 cm.)
Executed in 1981. This work is number one from
an edition of ten.
LOUISE LAWLER (B. 1947)
Last Supper and Other
diptych--Cibachrome print mounted on aluminum
overall: 29 1/8 x 28 1/2 in. (74 x 72.3 cm.)
Executed in 1999-2000.This work is number one from an
edition of five.
SHERRIE LEVINE (B. 1947)
After Van Gogh 1-7
seven elements--gelatin silver print
each: 10 x 8 in. (25.4 x 20.3 cm.)
Executed in 1994. This work is number five from an edition of five.
"Known for taking photographs of iconic
artwork in situ, Lawler poses fundamental
questions about the way we look at art. I think
collectors are drawn to her work because it recontextualizes
the ‘familiar’ – in this case, wellknown
works by Warhol, Basquiat and Hirst –
and suggests that its meaning is subject to the
setting in which it is displayed."
"In our digital-savvy age, the notion of taking
pictures, and pictures of pictures, is nothing
new. But when Levine started doing this in the
1990s, the idea was completely innovative.
This rare complete set after Van Gogh was
based on a book of artist plates that Levine
encountered at a library in Paris. The resulting
images – pictures of pictures of artwork –
capture the ‘essential’ qualities of Van Gogh’s
work, mediated here by the artist’s camera."
PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED EAST COAST COLLECTION
RICHARD PRINCE (B. 1949)
40 x 27 3/4 in. (101.6 x 70.4 cm.)
Executed in 1992. This work is number one from an edition of two.
ANDREAS GURSKY (B. 1955)
color coupler print face mounted on
Plexiglas in wooden artist frame
81 7/8 x 103 in. (208 x 261.3 cm.)
Executed in 1999. This work is number one
from an edition of six.
"Prince’s ongoing fascination with advertising
imagery originated in the mid 1970s, when as
a young painter he earned his living as a news
clipper for Time-Life. Fascinated by the images
before him, he began re-photographing
advertisements, cropping and enlarging
the subjects to call attention to our cultural
desires and the seduction of an idealized way
of life. Untitled (Cowboy) takes its imagery
from an advertisement featuring the Marlboro
Man against the picturesque yet carefully
constructed backdrop of the American West."
"Gursky has demonstrated that a
photographer can make or construct –
rather than simply take – photographs about
modern life and produce them on the scale
of epic painting. The monumental Klitschko
captures Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Klitschko’s
triumphant match against Axel Schulz that
earned him the 1999 European Heavyweight
crown. Taking the gigantic interior of the sports
arena and the crowd of people as his focus,
Gursky masterfully captures the euphoria of
the moment, yet maintains a quiet distance
from its subject."
"Graham’s mesmerizing oak trees invite viewers into his ethereal
and fascinating world. Experimenting with the camera obscura
model, he presents the trees upside down as they would be
viewed inside the early camera. But while a camera obscura
would print the projected image in the negative, Graham uses a
large format camera which prints photographs as positives. The
resulting image is both familiar in its coloring, yet foreign in its
PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF
RODNEY GRAHAM (B. 1949)
Welsh Oak #1-7
seven elements--monochrome color print
mounted on foam board
five: 48 x 36 in. (121.9 x 91.4 cm.)
two: 36 x 48 in. (91.4 x 121.9 cm.)
Executed in 1998. This work is artist’s proof
one from an edition of
seven plus two artist’s proofs.
MEET THE SPECIALIST: SARA FRIEDLANDER
Sara is Vice President and Head of the Afternoon Sale in the Post-War and Contemporary department at Christie’s. With the company for over six years, Sara spent
her first four in the warehouse cataloguing works of art and the next two seasons as the head of the First Open sale geared towards younger collectors. She is also a
charity auctioneer. Sara graduated from Brandeis University with a BA in Art History, and went on to complete her Master’s degree in Fine and Decorative Arts at the
Sotheby’s Institute in London. Artinfo recently named Sara in the "30-and-Under Crowd: The Art World’s Most Influential Young Figures."
1 – Frieze Art Fair,
2 – Claes
Street and The
Store, The Museum
of Modern Art,
Through August 15
3 – Punk: Chaos
to Culture, The
Museum of Art
May 9-August 11
4 – Martial Raysse:
May 11-July 13
"This will be the
artist’s first show
in the U.S. in four
decades, and it
should be excellent.
They’re focusing on
rare early works in a
variety of media."
5 – Carbone,
"In addition to the
fare, go for the art.
Curator Vito Schnabel
has filled the walls of
this new downtown
eatery with an
impressive array of
Planning to be in New York this May?
Sara Friedlander and Kevin Moore
share five not-to-be-missed events
to add to your calendar.
AUCTIONS IN NEW YORK
MAY 15-16, 2013
MAY 11, 10 AM – 5 PM
MAY 12, 1 PM – 5 PM
MAY 13, 10 AM – 5 PM
MAY 14, 10 AM – 5 PM
MAY 15, 10 AM – 12 PM
20 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10020
+1 212 636 2100
PHOTO CREDITS: Cover: Cindy Sherman © 2013 Cindy Sherman. Courtesy Metro Pictures • Page 5: Andreas Gursky © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn. Courtesy: Sprueth
Magers Berlin London. Page 7: Cindy Sherman © 2013 Cindy Sherman. Courtesy Metro Pictures; Thomas Struth © Thomas Struth • Page 8: Louise Lawler © 2013 Louise Lawler. Courtesy Metro Pictures; Sherrie
Levine © Sherrie Levine. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York • Page 9: Richard Prince © Richard Prince; Andreas Gursky © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn. Courtesy:
Sprueth Magers Berlin London • Page 10: Rodney Graham © Rodney Graham. This page: 1. © All rights reserved by Frieze New York 2. © 1961-62 Claes Oldenburg. Photo: MoMA Imaging Services 3. Courtesy
of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by David Sims 4. © Alberto Ricci . 5. © Daniel Krieger.