The news of the million-dollar spud photo just depresses me. Not for the reason you'd think; only because it makes my job redundant. I'm supposed to provide entertainment. How can I possibly make fun of that? It's like trying to make fun of the parlous state of American politics by pretending that some fatheaded bag of hot ego is in the running for President because he played a billionaire on TV. It's readymade self-parody. Nothing to add needed. I might as well go stand in line for unemployment. If Christopher Reeve were still alive, maybe people would vote for him for president because he's secretly really Superman.
I've been trying to research this for three days to find out if it's real. A collector pays $1.08 million (or some sum near to that) for a photograph of...a potato.
Appears to be the case.
All right then. What's wrong with a potato? Edward Weston took a very famous picture of a pepper, didn't he? And one of Paul Caponigro's great masterpieces is a photograph of an apple (which you can buy in the ideal 8x10 size for the spectacular bargain price—comparatively speaking—of $6,000). So why not a potato? Seems plausible in principle.
The cynic in me has a different notion. Imaginary scenario: a high-end portrait photographer adept at marketing to rich people sees a photographer claim to sell a nondescript photograph for $6 million, and notices that, in the process, said photographer gets priceless publicity—hundreds of millions of dollars' worth—all over the globe. Most of it negative, but still. So he contrives (somehow) to get a sympathetic supporter to replicate a subtly more plausible version of the same scenario. He then reaps free publicity all over the world. Hundreds of thousands of people who didn't know his name yesterday will know his name tomorrow. Genius. Ninja-level marketing move.
That can't be it, right? I'm just being cynical? A super-clever marketer adept at extracting hundreds of thousands of [insert name of currency] from the wallets of clients would probably have noticed the media's knee-jerk weakness and insatiable appetite for fake-outrageous stories to put up as click-bait. But to exploit that? I don't know where I come up with such zany ideas. I must have a suspicious mind.
And then some people will want me to post the photograph (no), repeat the guy's name (no), or provide a link to the story (no).
There are days when I just want to pull the covers over my head and go back to sleep.
(Thanks to Coco at Jackson Fine Art for the pricing information about "Apple, NYC, 1964" by Paul Caponigro)
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Mark Roberts: "I'm just disappointed the potato photo wasn't an autochrome."
Mike adds: In case Mark's joke is too subtle even for TOP readers, autochromes, an early color process developed by the Lumière brothers in France, were made using potato starch.
Edo: "Small potatoes that is not. Somebody had to say it."
Bri: "Oh dear! As an fellow Irishman, I'm always having to listen to jokes about potatoes. Who's having the last laugh now!"
Gordon Cahill (partial comment): "Jealous much, people? Photographer photographs potato and puts print on wall. Rich person he knows sees print and offers a million for the print. Photographer decides to not look gift potato in the mouth. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, isn't it. Personally I'd love to have a potato shot I could sell for seven figures. I wonder if I can get $500k for that carrot shot I have."
Kosch: "I own seven prints of single vegetables and fruits that I have hanging around my house. I have paid decent money for each print. Of everything having on my walls, they are the ones I stare at the most. I derive pleasure from having vegetable and fruit prints on my walls. Thank goodness that art is subjective, and thank goodness some people have disposable income at varying levels. It keeps quite a few of us in lenses."
Mike replies: Maybe you could make Gordon an offer for his carrot shot.
Bill Tyler: "After seeing the potato photograph, I was inspired to make the greatest art non-work of my life. Inspired by John Cage's composition, 4'33", and informed by the sublime poetry of Bunbury, it is a non-photograph of a non-potato. Unmade on highly archival empty space, with no pigments, precious metals, or substrate, in an edition so limited that there are no actual instances, it is a masterpiece for the ages. The price? A mere quadrillion quatloos, payable in easy monthly installments."
Marcell Nikolausz (fiberstrobe): "It's actually not a bad potato photo and lit well."
Paris (partial comment): "I knew that autochromes were made from potatoes. Is there a prize?"
Mike replies: Yes! But it's a potato.