Mikki the Chimp's photos sell for $76,500 with Sotheby's

A collection of photographs taken by a chimp named Mikki have sold as one of the top lots in Sotheby's Changing Focus - A Collection of Russian and Eastern European Contemporary Photography.

Moscow chimp photographs auction
It remains to be seen if Mikki shared the ideals of his anti-Soviet comrades

Crossing the block in London yesterday (June 5), the 18 photographs are mainly blurred images of Moscow's Red Square. Originating from a project by the controversial artist duo Komar and Melamid, they sold for £50,000 ($76,739).

Komar and Melamid began subverting Soviet ideology as members of the Moscow Conceptualism movement of the 1970s. After moving to the US in 1978, they began working with animals, starting with a drawing by a dog named Tranda.

Mikki chimp photographs Russia
Mikki's out of focus shots 'reference millions of photos taken by tourists on a daily basis', according to Sotheby's

They then moved on to elephants and established three Komar Melamid Art Academies for Elephants in Thailand, which help pay for the animals' upkeep by selling their paintings to tourists.

Mikki was formerly a popular performer at the Moscow Circus, but at the age of 15 he was taught to operate a camera by the pair.

His blurry, yet unique shots of the much-photographed Red Square led Komar and Melamid to the conclusion that they "not only teach animals, but learn from them as well".

Boris Mikhailov By The Ground
Mikhailov's worm's-eye view photographs reflect the impact of a failing regime on those at the very floor of society

The top lot of the sale was a collection of 23 works from the By The Ground Series of Boris Mikhailov, which sold for £57,500 ($88,249).

Again commenting on the realities of everyday life under the failing Soviet state, the sepia images were taken in Mikhailov's hometown of Kharkov from a worm's-eye view perspective.

Sotheby's will offer five photographs by the world's most valuable photographer, Andreas Gursky, in its June 26 auction in London.

Paul Fraser Collectibles is currently offering a signed copy of legendary portrait photographer Yousef Karsh's 50 Year Retrospective.

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