Cindy Sherman photo breaks auction record

01 July 2011

The thing about conceptual art is that you can sell it for however much you can get for it, reason notwithstanding. So when Cindy Sherman's Untitled #96, an enigmatic, dichromatic photograph shot in 1981, sold at Christie's for $3.89 million—making it the world's priciest, and therefore most valuable, photograph—the richly-talented global photography community couldn't believe its eyes. Sherman's somewhat anodyne work broke, by a hefty margin, the record of $3.35 million set in 2006 by Andrea Gursky's stunning 99 Cent II Diptychon. But Sherman is clearly on a roll: in late 2010, her Untitled #153, a six-feet-tall self-portrait as a mud-caked corpse shot in 1985, was sold for $2.7 million. Not many, except auctioneers, obviously, had seen much sense in that sale, either.

Aakanksha Kaushik is an assistant professor of economics at Motilal Nehru College at Delhi University. She is also a PhD student at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

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