Andreas Gursky

Unit 23 – Photographic Media, Techniques and Technology criteria P 1, 3

Last week we visited The Hayward Gallery for an exhibition of Andreas Gursky’s works. The exhibition showcased around 60 of his large-scale photographs from the early 1980 onwards, with the addition of some of his latest works.

“A true innovator engaged in thinking about and picturing the times in which we live in, Gursky is the perfect artist for launching the 50th anniversary year of the Hayward”

Andreas Gursky is a German photographer considered one of the most famous and acclaimed artists for large format photographs of landscapes and globalization. In 1980 he started producing photographs that were so large they needed a specialist commercial lab to even be printed.

One of the examples that can best demonstrate this, is undoubtedly his shot Paris, montparnasse the image of a chaotic and old building that measures 2 meters high and 4 wide.

From 1990 on, Gursky began using digital manipulation in his work, He started combining multiple shots of the same subject, often taken from different angles, and then merging them together. What results from this is an image in which the space seems enormous and open despite it not being so in reality.

Gursky uses digital Manipulation after shooting on large format cameras to stitch images together… Saturate colours…. Remove objects and add space where none exists.

Using this technique Gursky, in 1990, in Rhine II, created a section of the Rhine river from nothing. He took several shots of the same river and mixed them into a totally new landscape that did not exist in reality or nature.

In 2011 this same work was sold at auction for a record amount of 4 million dollars. Thanks to the use of digital manipulation, his deliberately global photography becomes extreme in its scale and vision.

Subjects such as a bustling stock market, a retail complex or an office are rendered even more chaotic, vast, colorful, noisy and busy to the eye.

Another important feature in Gursky’s photography is undoubtedly the shooting from above. Indeed many of his photographs allow us, as he explains, to see what god presumably sees. “I stand at a distance, like a person who comes from another world” Gursky said. But despite this his shots are undoubtedly suggestive and breathtaking but in the shooting process, there is nothing out there or God like, instead Gursky uses cranes, roofs on which he climbs, and even helicopters.

We noticed this in a few of his shots and this prompted discussions of his methods and techniques Including a lively debate on how this shot was taken.

On first inspection it looked like several different images badly stitched together but then you notice the lines and grey boxes are in fact ceiling lights and the image was taken from an extreme angle probably using a tilt and shift technique to maintain focus throughout the scene.

Another image we chatted about was Antarctica… Was it a patch of ice taken from a balloon… a drone… A really big ladder.

No it seem on researching it was taken using satellites and stitched together and is indeed the entire continent.

One of my highlights was this image of a racetrack in Bahrain taken from above, it shows the track twisting and contorting through the desert giving contrast to the Image in a never ending snake like fashion.

Another image of Gurskys I liked was this one of a Japanese proton detector water tank adorned with gold spherical detector heads.

Vast in its scale against the minute figure of people in canoes floating on the water.

Overall it was an interesting exhibition of massive images on another scale to what I have seen from other photographers. Yes there were some images I “didn’t get” and some that I absolutely loved but all the images were awe inspiring in both scale and the amount of work that must have gone into each image both in the taking and the editing not to mention the planning and execution of such huge vision.

Sources Tate and Hayward Gallery

4 thoughts on “Andreas Gursky

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