Who is Peter Lik?

Lik phantom

Peter Lik, Phantom

Photographer Peter Lik is in the news for selling a photograph for 6.5 million dollars. This is two million more than the previous record-holder by Andreas Gursky.

Caution about this event is being urged in the press as Lik is not known to the auction houses who sell the million dollar photographs by Gursky, Cindy Sherman and Jeff Wall. The sale was private and to an anonymous buyer, in other words, not verifiable.

So who is Peter Lik? According to his website he is “world-renowned, highly awarded, and boasting a huge international following.” This modest assertion is backed up by his fourteen shops across the US, including Miami, Las Vegas and Beverly Hills, where he sells his landscapes of canyons, deserts and sunsets. Lik’s work is “commercial-picturesque”, a genre that services the tourist trade with framed prints, postcards and calendars.

He is not alone in this market, Ken Duncan follows a similar model, flogging over-saturated traditional landscapes, broadly derived from Ansel Adams’ epic style. Like Duncan, Lik is an Australian, but long a resident of Las Vegas where his simplistic visuals and boosterist marketing are a natural fit.

Peter Lik’s journey as a photographer has taken him from humble beginnings in his native Australia to the summit of international landscape photography… he decided to settle in Las Vegas, centrally located to the landscapes he loves so much. The rest is photographic history.

The mainstream art world is agog about Lik’s good fortune, so different from its own conceptual approach. But does it do any harm? Lik sells his visual pop music to an appreciative but unsophisticated public who can purchase his images at almost any price point, from $100 up to…$6.5 million. That’s pretty democratic. Try walking out of a gallery with a $100 Gursky.

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Peter Lik, Ghos

Lik grid

from Peter Lik’s website

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