Andreas Gursky

Artist (1955)

Since the early 1980s, Andreas Gursky has been offering a spectacular vision of the contemporary world (human groupings, places and cities) by way of monumental colour photographs, often frontal and hyper-saturated with details, the very opposite of the snapshot. Like his teachers, Bernd and Hilla Becher, his eye--and the way it sees things--cultivates the distance to things and the viewpoint adopted is often raised. Gursky is seeking the most conspicuous signs of the economic and social structures in which we live, the decision-making places of the political, commercial and informational sector, tourist and urban complexes, and entertainment. In 1990, the Siemens Arts Program invited him to take part in a project whose goal was to look at the relations existing between man, the environment, and technology. This project not only opened up the doors of Siemens to him, but also those of Mercedes Benz, Grundig, Schiesser, and other such companies. He duly revealed the repetitive and alienating structures which organize our work places, henceforth transformed by high-tech industry. The year 1991 represented a twofold turning-point in his oeuvre. On the one hand, he took part in the first shared exhibition of the Bechers with some of their students, titled Aus der Distance (At a Distance), and, on the other, he introduced the computer into the preparation of his photographs. If, at the outset, the artist used digital procedures out of a concern over formal clarity (he got rid of all detail which seemed superfluous to him), he subsequently made systematic use thereof. “My photos are often interpretations of places”, he explains. His goal is to enlarge space in the image. To this end, he executes a lengthy and painstaking work of retouching, juxtaposition and arrangement of different shots. Montparnasse (1993), La Bourse de Hong Kong (1994), Hong Kong Island (1994), Los Angeles (1998), 99 Cents (1999), Loveparade (2001), Madonna I (2001) and Cocoon II (2008) are all dizzy-making images, distant commentaries on our life styles and the places where we live.

Andreas Gursky was born in Lepizig, and lives and works in Düsseldorf. Between 1977 and 1981 he studied at the Folkwangschule in Essen, headed by Otto Steinert (1915-1978), founder of Subjective Photography. He then attended Bernd and Hilla Becher’s classes at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf between 1981 and 1987. The photographer’s work has been shown in many contemporary art events since the early 1990s. The MoMA in New York held a retrospective of his work in 2001 and the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2002.

Nadine Labedade

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