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Sunday, 22 May 2011


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In my opinion the only thing crazier than limited editions are vintage prints.

When you make your bed,whether it was your idea or someone else's YOU have to sleep in it.

FWIW, Caligula did not appoint his horse Incitatus as senator; rather he appointed his horse as consul.

Artist's resale rights are a good step forward:


Beautiful day here in Baltimore yesterday for the Preakness. Hope for something similar for the first Baltimore Grand Prix (IndyCar) through downtown streets in early September. Helps make up for the Orioles.

Mike, don't get me started on these overwrought, overweight, giant, ugly monster vehicles. I have an acquaintance who is wealthy enough to own several fuel-inefficient luxury vehicles. When I suggested that he might consider putting solar panels on his house, he dismissed this idea, stating that solar panels were "bad investments".
Leona Helmsley infamously said that paying taxes was for the "little people". To those who purchase these vehicles, I think that the same philosophy pertains regarding the environment and energy independence.

This car is not a car, it is a disease.

We got many of those fat German cars in Romania. I haven't seen a single one in London or Paris. Those people drive normal cars. If you'd drive such a car in France you'll probably get laughed at.

John Camp's comment brings up a good subject for another blog post: What one image would you pay the most to own?

I've long lusted after Paul Caponigro's "Running White Deer." (The largest image I can find online is here: http://www.jacksonfineart.com/images/private/largest/19.jpg

Oh, and speaking of that beautiful Caponigro image, I was tickled to read the story behind that amazing capture. As Caponigro himself tells it:

"I used an Irish sheepdog. I got the owner to get the dog to corral a few dozen of the deer down at the far end of the field and on my signal get him to chase them in my direction. I had my camera set. I had my shutter cocked, slide out and I gave him a signal."


One of my favorite landscape photographers is Roman Lorac.
His best-known image (and the title of his book) is "Two Hearted Oak." Unfortunately for him, while he was still on the way up he limited production of this image. (I can't remember if he limited the number, or just said that after a certain date he would print no more.) Anyhow, even though he charged more for this image it must have hurt.
So now he's returned to the same subject and is printing a vertical version called, "Two Hearted Oak II).
I don't honestly know what I think of this. It's sort of cheating the patrons who recognized his talent early-on and paid good money for an artifically limited print which should rightly be expected it to rise in value if he became more well-known.
On the other hand -- why not?

1) I believe the increased car weight, noted in recent posts, is about comfort of the ride. When you encounter bumps, the greater inertia of the higher mass car makes the forces of the suspension jostling up and down less perceptible to the passengers. The size of the driver (refering back to your notion about "fat" American drivers and the Mustang) is irrelevant (and, for the most part, BMW drivers in the U.S.A. tend to be more fit than the rest of the population in the U.S.A.).
2) I also believe that vehicles like the BMW (noted above) still prove to be more fuel efficient than SUVs/trucks of somewhat lesser weight (under "highway" driving conditions). While they both suffer during acceleration, the aerodynamics are more important than mass at higher speeds and so the BMW would be much more fuel efficient on a road trip. Things are more dicey in local/commuter driving.
3) I always liked Christopher Burkett's pricing notion on prints. He does not limit the total number of prints but simply has various numeric milestones that trigger an increase in price. His notion is that the price increases reflect an appreciation in the value of the work so there is no need for a limited edition.

(BTW, I do not own or have an interest in owning a BMW - or a Mustang. I am one of those who buys the ubiquitous "vanilla" family cars made by a certain Japanese auto company.)

Re: Cteins's ReTouch webinar,

Yep, very good stuff. Some minor technical glitches including a Photoshop crash, but as a veteran presenter (in a different field of computing) of this sort of live webinar I think that on the whole it went quite well. Having a knowledgeable host in Doug Nelson was a big plus, since he wound up asking Ctein the very questions I had myself. The two-plus hours went by far too quickly. More!

I was scribbling notes like mad; many of them being variations on "so THAT's what that Photoshop feature is for!" So the good news is it was well worth the 10 bucks; the bad news is, now I'll have to re-do some of my own scans and restorations to try out what I learned.

Oh, and Ctein sure has a lot of external drives hooked up to his Mac. I didn't know there were than many ports. How does he do that? Are they daisy-chained FireWire?

Regarding porcine Porsches and bloated BMWs, what then is the BMW X6 M of the photography world?

"I believe the increased car weight, noted in recent posts, is about comfort of the ride"

No sale, buddy...the smoothest, silkiest ride I ever experienced in any car was a Peugeot 604, and it weighed more than a ton less that the X6 M (2140 lbs. less to be exact). You need SOME weight for a smoother ride, but by no means that much.


"Running White Deer" was NOT editioned and they're quite affordable even today.

Paul is not currently making silver prints, but Afterimage sells a digital print made by Paul's son John Paul for $2,000. John Paul is an outstanding digital printer, I can vouch for that.




"I haven't seen a single one in London or Paris. Those people drive normal cars."

Sorry, ggl, but I have to tell you that we Brits are no more immune to F**k You and F**k The Worlditus than are your own good folk. In a nation of 96 thousand square miles and 20 million plus vehicles, you might assume that there'd be sufficient incentive to downsize our beloveds. But no, school runs in this country's urban areas (where off-road capability is really, really needed, of course) resemble the battle of Kursk, only with slightly larger machines and less considerate drivers.

By the way, Mike, I think Audi might have something to say about you awarding the trophy to BMW. Their wonderful Q7 is only slightly smaller than Moravia (though not intentionally), I'm told.

Dear Mike,

Much as I agree with the arguments that point out that (A) you almost certainly couldn't get away with doing this and (B) it's almost certainly illegal, those are not answers to your question. You asked a moral question. Those are arguments based on efficacy and expediency. If someone asks you if it's moral to commit a murder and your response is that they won't get away with it, that's non sequitur. It may be true; it doesn't address their question.

Something that intrigued me about all the answers was how few people saw this as anything but an absolute situation. What it brought to my mind were the studies of moral and ethical spectrum back in the 1960s and 70s which posed a series of questions along the lines of “Is it OK to steal drugs from the corner drugstore?” That would be followed up by variations such as, “What if you're poor?” “What if you're poor and you're stealing the drugs to make your mortally ill child well?” “What if the drugs cost the store essentially nothing, so that they're really not out any money, but they've marked them up 10,000 fold which is why you can't afford to cure your mortally ill child?”

Despite the popular trope of decrying moral relativism and situational ethics, there are essentially no human beings who are moral absolutists all the time, on all subjects.

Anyway, that's where my thinking went because my first instinct was to say absolutely not. If I made a promise that I would only print 10 prints, I would keep that promise. I am almost fanatically honest about keeping my word, and money just doesn't tempt me that much. So then I asked myself what would drive me to break my word. And it was not very hard to come up with a situation. If a lover of mine were mortally ill and could not afford the medical treatment that would cure them (unfortunately, not at all a far-fetched example; look up the bankruptcy statistics for people with medical insurance when they're hit with really catastrophic illness). Well, that's a no-brainer for me -- I would take the $3 million, save their life, and the consequences be damned.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Dear John,

Thanks for the praise. This is the first time I'd done one of these virtual workshops, which is a somewhat different experience from being able to see your students. I'm glad you thought it went well. (The trick is to envision everyone sitting at their computers naked [VBG].)

Not as many external drives hooked up as it would seem. Only four external drives. The majority of drives, internal and external, have multiple partitions on them. Each partition mounts as a separate drive.

As for how I hook them up: I don't daisychain either USB or FireWire; it's a hub and spoke configuration off of powered hubs for both interfaces. My experience has been that daisy chaining can get hinky.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Heavy cars=smooth ride? I we didn't have these oversize monsters tearing up the pavement perhaps the smooth pavement would provide smooth ride.

That aside, I doubt road trips account for more than a tiny precentage of the fuel used daily by the one occupent car/suv/dolled up pickup sorties engaged in by us. No, it's 'honey, I'm gonna run down to the store and pick up some....'

As a rule, normally one should disagree completely with such few car-reviews as they actually perform on Top Gear. The BMW X6, however, is the exception: a 4x4 that wouldn't pull itself up a grass slope, etc, truly pointless.

You can design smaller cars to be quiet and comfortable. My inexpensive 1971 Peugeot 204 sedan was. They just choose not to build cars like that, and they get away with it because people believe that cars need to be large and heavy to be quiet and comfortable.

First time I saw a X6 on the road was sitting at a red light, and it was the "M" version. At first glance I thought, wow, someone is still driving an Aztec.

Basically, we're nuts when it comes to cars.

Hell, John, Ben Bernanke himself does not even make a real good Ben Bernanke if you read this blog:


Unless of course you happen to be one of the topdogs of the international money spinning organisations, eh investment banks. But hey, who wonders since he's a revolving door manager, isn't he.

But the facts stay the same. Art is money (as Andy Warhol understood so well). And art is used to create wealth.....but not the way Adam Smith intended it to be made.....as such even the most breathtaking Thomas Struth is just a piece in the international art puzzle and as such for many a buyer not more then a commoditie. And as we all know commoditie prices are prone to hyperinflating via false appreciation (houses, contemporary art, photography is next?). And the only one non the wiser seems to be the artist herself....now I think Cindy's doing allright but I come from Holland and if you are born in Nuenen you sort of tend to sympathise with the local heros. And hey, that hero only made art not money and look what happend a few decades later.....

Greetings, Ed

"they get away with it because people believe that cars need to be large and heavy to be quiet and comfortable."

I could be wrong, but I've always sensed that people drive giant cars because of insecurity. They feel that the road--and by extension the world--is a hazardous and threatening place, and they feel better going out into it armored against every eventuality from carjacking to the need to escape through ditches and thickets to the need to shelter one's whole family, to withstanding collisions with other large vehicles to beating the other obnoxious bastard who's trying to humiliate their manhood at the stoplight. Nothing shall affront their repose or their dignity as long as they're surrounded by their three tons of metal and umpteen hundred horsepower.

I sometimes wonder how closely our vehicles can approximate APCs, and how long it will take to get there. We're still moving in that direction from the looks of the cars on the road around here.


On your editioning question.

"It takes twenty years to build a reputatiion and five minutes to ruin it".
Warren Buffet

Regarding the X6, Mr Ronaldi is right. If BMW wanted to build a better Pontiac why couldn't they have copied the Solstice rather than the Aztec?

A Z4 doesn't count as it costs half of what my house is worth.

On the hypothetical situation and editioning prints... It seems that if you have to edition, and you have to choose a number, it's best to pick one where the photographer feels comfortable keeping half of the edition, so as to maintain insurance against future value. If the price doesn't go up you've lost nothing, but if it does, you'll do okay.

Well, Hummer was the next step up (in reaching APC status), and they folded.

Requiring young children to be in car seats and all passengers to wear seatbelts has significantly increased the size car needed by child-raising families. You can't pile 5 small kids into the back seat and head to the zoo any more.

Four-wheel drive has benefits in a road car; just ask Audi. You can find it in all sorts of vehicles never designed for off-road -- volvo sedans, mini-vans, every recent audi, and so forth.

I was away for the weekend and missed the whole 3 million dollar print moral dilemma thing, but I think the answer is easy. Sell the print and sign it as Richard Prince.

Question regarding editioning:

I know of some photographers who do limited editions, but they aren't simply a ltd. ed. of a print, but of that print at this size (sometimes they are even more qualified than that, such as edited this way). They are then free to make other prints of that image at other sizes, or in other ways that don't meet the specifications of the ltd. ed.

What do you think of that practice?

I live across the street from a BMW dealership in a town that has too much money and hence too many BMW's. So, I see more of them than most people, and I can tell you that BMW has completely gone off the reservation on design. The X6 is only one symptom, the entire X series is fugly, and most of the rest of the line is merely boring. Except the Z's. I'd drive one of those. Or I would if I could afford one!

And is Ctein's webinar archived?

Artist's resale rights... what a crock.

For the record, I'm not an artist and have never sold a photo (yet...) BUT I have worked with my hands for most of my life, in one way or another, which is just about the same thing. Condsider...

You're a carpenter, and build a house for a newly-wed couple for let's say $50,000. Forty years later, when the kids are grown and Dad retires, the couple sell the house for $400,000, seeing as the market's changed, the neighbourhood's gone upscale and inflation has added a bit too. As the builder of the house, are you entitled to a chunk of their cash? I say nyet! Neither is the architect or the kid who mowed the grass every summer week-end. It was yours, you sold it for a negotiated sum - if it's now worth more, suck it up, princess; maybe you should have kept it, not sold it. Is Mr Ferrari due some back-pay for those rare machines that have appreciated in value, or Carol Shelby for the insane values of 427 S/C Cobras? I think not. I hope that makes my point.

And don't even get me going on the rights of dead musicians and their money-grabbing progeny/ex-spouses/corporate pigs. When I die (and you too)the people I did jobs for aren't going to keep paying my kids for the labour I did, even if the equipment I fixed is still earning money for them - that's just not the way real life is. When you're dead, you stop earning, period. And don't whine to me about how the artist (musician or painter or photographer - all samey same) didn't make much money during his lifetime - tough. That was the path he chose, accepting that there probably wouldn't be much money along that path to provide support for wives and children and hangers-on. When you die, you die. You give up all rights to anything you did in your lifetime, because YOU are no longer here to benefit from the fruits of YOUR labours. If you were canny enough to put some aside for the kids, well done. If not, they get to go out and work like the rest of us.

Sounds hard? Life is. Sorry if this puts some artistic noses out of joint, but it burns me up that some people continue to make scads of money from work that they had no part of producing. Selling something that has appreciated in the time you've owned it is your good fortune or wise investment, bludging on Dad's work is parasitic.

Re: John Camp's additional comment. This makes the photographer's position in all this much clearer. We are like the poor third world folk in that huge mud pit gold mine, grubbing for a nugget and getting next to nothing for it if we turn one up. It's the folks on up the line, who already have more money than is morally justifiable, who are the only ones permitted to profit from our labors.

'Requiring young children to be in car seats and all passengers to wear seatbelts has significantly increased the size car needed by child-raising families. You can't pile 5 small kids into the back seat and head to the zoo any more.'

I personally don't believe that seat-belt requirements have driven the beefing-up frenzy in modern He-mobiles, David. The real, real trouble is, driving a vehicle with poorer front line of (low) sight than a mark I Whippet tank, it's everyone else's children who'll pay for your own brood's safety. With that lovely chest-high impact, they get to die at an impact speed some 10 - 15 mph slower than if a saloon scraped them off the road.

DD-B, point taken about the benefits of 4-wheel drive on roads. But it still breaks my heart seeing Land Cruisers, Patrols and Land Rovers used as mere status symbols. It's like those maharajas having cheetahs as adornments of their throne rooms - beautiful deadly hunters lowered to the position of lapdogs.

The aforementioned BMW gets 14.6 miles per gallon? I remember my father's 1968 Pontiac Catalina. I used to get 14 mpg out of that leaded premium guzzling boat and he wondered how I managed to get such good mileage! Unlike most teenage boys, I guess I didn't feel the need to do those rubber-peeling jackrabbit starts.

About 3 years ago, I did a two day training course with my company. In the way of these corporate money-wasting things, the course of about 25 of us was booked into an English country house hotel / golf complex in Berkshire. The large majority of the complex was booked by BMW to introduce the X6 to UK BMW dealers, and so there were about 30 of the beasts parked up for the dealers to look at and drive around on the private roads of the hotel estate.

I have never seen such a hideous and unnecessary car in the metal before, nor had I been so close to as many hideous and unnecessary BMW dealers.

It gives me great pleasure that BMW seem to have signally failed to have moved many British people to buy one of these things, and when I very occasionally see one on the road, to let the driver know with an economical one-finger gesture that my approval for their profligacy and environmentally damaging selfishness is withheld.

I think you're confusing two separate issues, although I can't say I disagree with your take on either one. The issue that was at hand is whether the artist deserves a portion of appreciated value in her lifetime. I don't see how any adjudicated system of recompense could work, but on that score, you're leaving out one important consideration: it's that the value of any single piece in question is highly dependent on what ELSE the artist has done, usually since the early piece was made. IOW, the later buyer paying millions is not just buying an object, he is also buying intangibles that the artist supplied through her subsequent labors, and for that artist's reputation, "genius," etc. Those intangibles are not literally contained in the object being purchased, but they often might account for a large part of that object's appreciation.



I do see the point you raise (I won't say it's your point), but I don't agree. When the artist sold the photo/painting/sketch, it was worth what it was worth. If it's now worth more, well, it's worth more (although in the hypothetical case under discussion, I wouldn't have it if it was given to me, with bonus tickets to Disneyland included ;) ). Via your argument, I can see why someone would think they were entitled to an extra slice of the pie post facto(I don't think I messed my Latin there), but I think it's indefensible - it's double dipping, based on vague notions of 'artistic merit' and 'genius', both of which are so tenuous as to be non-definable, as well as so open to interpretation by the viewer. Lots of people laud Warhol; I just say meh. I saw a travelling exhibition last year, and I was underwhelmed, which was a little saddening, as I'd studied his work in high school (lo, these many years ago) and was really hoping to be amazed. Oh well.

This notion we have of 'art' as something sacred, that 'artists' are to be revered, is ridiculous - personally, I much prefer to give kudos to the unseen people who work hard to do constructive things for society - the garbage men, the ditch diggers, the cleaners. All the people who contribute to the fabric. I'm not saying we shouldn't have artists or their art, just that maybe there's more important things to do with a life. If you want an ongoing pay cheque, be a construction worker, not an artist.

All of which makes me, I guess, some sort of Philistine. :)


On a personal note, sorry for the rant - my Dad had a stroke a week ago and I've been a little out of sorts, and just needed to vent. Sorry.

"in a market based entirely on perception, your reputation is really all you have to sell"

So the real question simply put is whether your reputation is worth 3 million dollars. Slightly less simply , will the hit to your reputation diminish you future sales by 3 million dollars.

If none of your later work is selling as per the example and you have children with no health insurance, I'd say that it would be immoral to not sell.

Some artists I can think of would probably have their careers enhanced by the notoriety.

I'd cover my ass by having a bill of sale that referred to the new print as a new work with a new name derivative of the earlier work even if I didn't sign it as Richard Prince.

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