Rhein II – Andreas Gursky
Simplicity of the composition mirrors Germany’s structured industry, illustrating a modern Germany as distinct from the Romantic landscapes of Caspar David Friedrich. It becomes a Platonic idea of a river rather than an actual place. It looks at man’s influence on the natural world by mirroring the large scale 19th Century landscape paintings with a contemporary though similarly imposing viewpoint.
He used one of the best digital medium-format cameras available (a Hasselblad) and stitched several photographs to make a high resolution photograph, which he then simplified further by removing distractions such as buildings in Photoshop. Because of his name, built upon his oeuvre, and that Rhein II was the largest of an edition of six, with four being in major museums, it was sold for $4.33 million to a private German collector, making it the most expensive photo ever at the time.