Andreas Gursky's Rhein II just became the most expensive photograph ever, worth 4.34 million. Check it out here. No, really, click the link, take a look, and come right back. What do you think? At first glance it doesn't impress because it's imbalanced and lacking a punch-line. But that is the point. The photograph is about repeated lines, color (green, yellow and grey), and contrast. In other words, simplicity. Too many photographs (including some of Gursky's other work) are littered with nonsense. This one is not--just some basic lines and color. Another theme of Rhein II is uneasiness. The rule of no-centered-horizons is thrown out and a critic might think there is too much negative space at the top. The vibrant grass is countered with the dull-grey sky, river and path. It's not a "pretty" landscape, and it makes one rethink what makes a landscape photograph great. Gursky pushed the bounderies and it paid off big, yet he did so by throwing out useless rules and keeping the image as simple as possible.
Another point that should not be overlooked is that Gursky used a medium-format film camera to create Rhein II. Film is not dead, in fact, it is even more relevant now thank's to Gursky.