From November 15-18, the Carousel du Louvre will be hosting the 11th Paris Photo, an essential event for collectors of vintage, modern and contemporary photos. On this occasion, 83 galleries will be presenting their selection. At the same time, Parisian auction houses like Piasa, Artcurial and Ader are organising various thematic sales. On the other side of the Channel in London, Sotheby’s and Christie’s are presenting a few hundred photos. This is the opportunity for Artprice to examine one of the most fashionable sectors on the market.
The photography market is still enjoying extraordinary growth. In only 9 months, this sector has racked up sales of EUR 75m in 2007 compared to 65m the year before. Nevertheless, with ten thousand images presented over this period, photography still only accounts for 4.5% of Fine Art transactions today. The market is still concentrated in the United States. Over the last 10 years, 65% of proceeds (40% of lots) were generated in New York. London was second (19% of proceeds) and Paris third (9%).
Supply is still limited but the sector stands out for high valuations. Photography is easily the highest growth medium, even over the long term. For example, between 1990 and October 2007, prices for photography rose 70%, compared to +43% for sculpture and +15% for painting. Even so, the market still offers many opportunities: 86% of lots went for less than €10,000.
© Andreas Gursky - 99 cent
Recent price rises have resulted in an increasing number of records being set. Last February, Andreas Gursky was honoured with a £1.5m bid (€2.27m) at Sotheby’s London for 99 cent II, (2001) an absolute record for a photo, or rather two as the work is a diptych. Then comes Edward Steichen (1879-1973) whose The Pond, Moonlight is the most expensive modern photo on the market, with a $2.6m bid a year earlier. Last May, during the contemporary art sales, other million dollar bids arrived. The most remarkable were $2.5m for a Cowboy by Richard Prince (2001), $1.85m for Cindy Sherman with Untitled No.92, (1981) and $1.65m for a Hiroshi Sugimoto triptych entitled Black Sea, Ozuluce/Yellow Sea, Cheju/Red Sea, Safaga, (1991-1992). Primitive photography was a media favourite up till 2003 with a record €700,000 paid for a photo by Joseph Philibert Girault de Prangey (1804-1892), but no 19th century image has come near the million dollar mark. Only very rare portfolios have managed that.
©The Pond—Moonlight (1904) is a pictorialist photograph by Edward Steichen.
© Hiroshi Sugimoto. Black Sea, Ozuluce/Yellow Sea, Cheju/Red Sea, Safaga. 1991-1992
©Cindy Sherman. Untitled no. 92
©Richard Prince. untitled (Cowboy), 1989
©Joseph Philibert GIRAULT DE PRANGEY (1804-1892). 113. Athènes, T(emple) de J(upiter) Olympien pris de l'Est». 1842