Shortly after Andreas Gursky's landscape photograph, Rhein II, sold off at an outrageous $4.3 million at an auction, two Switzerland-based photographers Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegger decided to have a little fun by recreating the photograph completely inside their studio. “It started out as a joke,” Cortis tells Wired. “In our free time, when there’s no money coming in, we decided to try to recreate the most expensive pictures in the world.”
Initially they had decided to recreate only the most expensive photographs, but soon they realized the technical difficulties of it. For instance, creating a model of a human wasn’t easy. So instead, they settled on recreating iconic photos that embody the great events of the past two hundred years.
The duo carefully began selecting images that are easier to reconstruct and can be worked with off-the-shelf models, sometimes making alterations to existing models and sometimes even building everything from scratch. The pair painstakingly recreate each scene in miniature using paper, cotton balls, plastic and cement. Some take a few days to build, others take weeks.
Before building the scene, they put the camera in the right position, chose the right angle and never move it until the work is done. After they have finished, their final images are always pulled back from the scene to provide a glimpse of the studio and the materials they used.
The project started in 2012 and is still going. So far they have recreated pictures of the famous Tiananmen protest, the Loch Ness monster, the Hindenburg crash, the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center, and the Titanic, to name a few.
Tiananmen by Stuart Franklin, 1989
The last known photo of the Titanic afloat, 1912.
The Hindenburg Disaster by Sam Shere, 1937
208-N-43888, Charles Levy, 1945
The Wright Brothers, by John Thomas Daniels, 1903
Nessie, by Marmaduke Wetherell, 1934
AS11-40-5878, by Edwin Aldrin, 1969
Rhein II, by Andreas Gursky, 1999
Concorde, by Toshihiko Sato, 2000
Left: Mont Blanc, Louis-Auguste Bisson & Auguste-Rosalie Bisson. Right: Five Soldiers Silhouette at the Battle of Broodseinde, Ernest Brooks.
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