Thursday, April 23, 2009

Where Content is King

What photos do I buy for myself? The most recent photograph I bought was a large (50 x 60 inch) print of this image of Paris by Sze Tsung Leong. I actually had no intention of buying any such picture, but I walked into the Yossi Milo Gallery a few weeks ago and it just leapt of the wall at me. (Bear in mind that the j-peg can’t do justice to the actual print which is breath-taking, but please click on the image to see it larger).

I have no special affection for Paris, no empty space looking for a picture this big, but when something really clicks at first sight and holds up on a second viewing, and you can scrape together the money,
I say buy it! (In today’s world it has to be a much safer bet than any stock.)

Sze Tsung Leong came into prominence with his series of horizon pictures taken all over the world. The horizons very specifically lined up in the same place in every picture so you could mix and match them into any length you wanted, and while they sold like hotcakes, it all seemed a little obvious to me. Leong’s earlier works, however, black and white circular pictures of the Yangtze River, and his slightly later architectural pictures of Chinese structures - showed a promising new talent.

Leong’s newest and ongoing series, from which the Paris picture is just one, is simply called “Cities” and follows the seriality of the Horizon series without so scrupulously following the rigorously identical composition. They’re all taken from high vantage points but here content trumps format. Which is probably as good a definition of what I tend to like as any.


g+m said...

It doesn't look terribly impressive in the small format, but looking at the large one I can see why.

I'm pretty sure he took this from the Notre Dame. Can you confirm?

b said...

This is a question I've been meaning to ask for a while. I was left some money by my grandmother and would like to buy some art with it one day. How does purchasing photography work? Do I simply express interest to the gallery, and ask for a price? How does one know what photos sell for these days -- is there a good site to research such matters?

Many thanks for your blog. I look forward to it each week and love your enthusiasm for the work and process of photography.

The Year in Pictures said...

Answer to Tasha:
Yes. It was taken from Notre Dame.

Answer to B:
At least the short answer. Go to galleries, go to auctions. Talk to the experts. See who you trust.
See what holds up. Once you feel a modicum of comfort you can start to take the plunge. I'll go with a stock analogy again here. Would you buy stocks if you knew nothing about how the stock market works or what a companies full story was?

I realize this needs a longer more complex post and will try to do one soon.

Sara said...

This a very powerfull image, and the small version didn't give it any justice. The larger one gave me vertigo.

Christopher Paquette said...

Sze Tsung Leong is one of my favorites... this jpeg looks pretty darn good, so the actual print must be incredible!

I think you made a very wise investment, in addition to buying something you can enjoy looking at.... something stocks and bonds can't provide.

Martini said...

Thanks for the advice about buying prints. I had the chance to buy a Cartier-Bresson years ago, but chickened out because I was a college student and would have maxed out my credit card...I'm regretting not having bought the print now.


wow! its good you mentined to click on it for a larger size: its amazing. it really doesn leap out at you and the clarity is spectacular. great choice.
ps: i LOVE your blog. it really makes my day.

Paul Pincus said...


this is some insane serious gorgeousness, james!