Monday, August 19, 2013

Snap shot

Anyone with an interest in the contemporary photography market will have had a fascinating week as the results of the latest Auckland auctions came to hand. Although Webb’s only offered three photographic items they scored with Michael Parekowhai’s large format Elmer Keith. From his series of sparrows and rabbits made in 2000 The Beverly Hills Gun Club, it went for $18,400. A couple of days later another photo of Elmer Keith No 1 (this one made four years later on a slightly different coloured background and pointing the other way) went for $17,600 at Art + Object. And good luck to future researchers trying to work out the titles, sizes and poses of all these sparrows if the original records are ever lost. The original BHGC works were sold for around $3,000 and over the years the prices have climbed steadily (in 2005 one sold for $8,226). Also at Art + Object a couple of Ava Seymour’s large-scale images went for over $15,000 between them.

However, despite the attractions of some large format photography the media continues to struggle to get the attention it deserves. The chance to purchase Peter Peryer's classic paired portraits of Erika Peryer for around $10,000 was passed up (Te Papa and the Auckland Art Gallery both have one each which probably put them out of contention as they were paired at auction). Peryer’s Octopus sold for a healthy $5,976 and sounds like it was purchased by a collector who has dominated the Peryer market at auction over the last few years.

But in spite of these specific examples there's still a great opportunity to build a major photography collection without spending mega dollars. Most of the images on offer, and many of them were classics, would have been hammered down for $2000 a piece. It can’t last.

An addendum to our post on the Friendlander photograph of Ralph Hotere vs the Hotere drawing. Game set and match to photography. The portrait went for $9200 and the drawing failing to get a bid.