14 Badly-Written Commentaries About The 19 Most Expensive Photographs Ever Sold

Over the last, oh, thirty years, writing about photography has evinced a spectrum of literacy from the academic to phonetic, and even street-style, journalism. Curiously, I have not witnessed this variety in the quality of writing about other art mediums. I want to believe that photographers (and/or their scriveners) are at least as literate as the general population of artists and writers, but here is evidence otherwise.


Disclaimer: I have the proofreading disease. Despite and still…

“It has been a long debate weather photography has its place at the fine art table or not.” Why the passive voice? How is the weather a factor? Are we to assume that there is a table, perhaps for a banquet, at which photography earns its seat (“or not”)?

“Some would never consider photography to be a true art form, capable of reaching the depth of a painting or a sculpture.” Who are these anonymous “some?” What is depth in this context?

“Others are more flexible in this regard and look to photography as a distinct ,stand alone form of art that is in no way shadowed by other mediums.” I’m becoming more comfortable now with the indistinct number and the anonymity; I’m less comfortable with the spacing of words, and with the seemingly arbitrary deployment of commas.

“While more and more critics and art specialists feel this way, the majority of the art world has not yet fully welcomed photography among the other visual languages that represent the gross of the market.” Among? Gross? When was this written? 1974?

“The most expensive single photograph ever sold came at a huge price but still, a very long way from the most expensive painting ever sold.” a. Just drop in a comma whenever the mood strikes. b. Who cares?

“It is fortunately a growing market.” …for whom? Gallery owners and…? 

“Naturally, with the number of photographers being so high, it is easy to become frustrated and intrigued about how the apparent simplicity of some of these works earned them so much money.”  The numbers of photographers being high compared to what? Why is it easy for you to become both frustrated and intrigued “about” something? And might there be a word missing in that last part?

“It isn’t an easy answer to give and perhaps I am not the most qualified person to give that answer, however we have a three part series that will ultimately cover the 51 most expensive photos ever sold.” (Again, just punctuate wherever it feels right (never mind that you haven’t asked a question that can be answered).

1. Would “damaging” be some sort of editorial comment? Again, space and punctuate with impugnity.

2. This is not a self-portrait; rather, the photographer is the model for a conceptual conceit. Did the anonymous writer engage Sun Ra to type?

3. Sonny Blount again. “Space is the place.”

4. I’d like to own a piece of the comma action. This image, apparently, is an example of how one “stirs” the photography world.

6. Again, not a self-portrait.

8. “Sankt.”

10. Sometimes, one is too excited to observe literate conventions of spacing and of capitalization of names.

11. In the text for #9, the price range was indicated by a slash; now it’s a dash. Need it be only standardized by rhyming with “ash?” And why the middle-school marrings?

12. More lack of control over punctuations and capitalizations. (Editor’s note: I’m typing with my two forefingers; how’m I doin’?)

14. Please reveal to me exactly which historians think that these images wre a turning point for Mr. Weston, or that capitalized chambered nautiluses.

16. Perhaps Toonces was the typist.

18. How can we know when a portrait is unconventional, or how many consonants to use in an adverb, and how reassuring is it to learn that silver gelatin prints are available in an edition?

19. No matter in what year a picture was made, it’s helpful to indicate a range of years during which the picture might have been made. N.B.: It’s not necessary to type all the letters of certain words or names.

This is only the first installment of a promised series of three. Perhaps it comes from a place whose first language is not English. Enjoy.