A Lesson in Repetition: Andreas Gursky's 99 Cent

A Lesson in Repetition: Andreas Gursky's 99 Cent

Grace Shu
Nov 19, 2007

For 99 cents, you can get $3.3 million. At least, that's how much German photographer Andreas Gursky got paid for this photograph he took in 1999 (pictured above). He also holds the record for the highest price paid for a photograph with this piece during an auction at Sotheby's. When we read about that, we hopped over to our local 99 Cent store to see what the aesthetic hubbub was all about.

Here's what we learned: even though the 99 Cent store is the quintessential El Cheapo Depot; visually, it's a marketing genius. It's got all the other El Cheapo Depots (like say, Big Lots) beat, with all of their generic brand merchandise from dishwasher detergent boxes to fortune cookies stacked neatly in the window, creating its own bold statement over and over and over again.

Based on our 99 Cent lesson, we've reconfigured our entire pantry by container shape, color, and function. And surprisingly? It not only makes us want to raid the pantry more (and order out less), but it's much, much easier to find things. You can also get DIY creative, considering the price, like these dollar-store hackers.

Photo from MOMA.

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