Andreas Gursky: Painter with a camera
German photographer Andreas Gursky is being featured in a major retrospective at the newly reopened Hayward Gallery in London. His spectacular photographs aim to dissect and reassemble the world around him.
Hundreds of newly produced cars are parked in the Italian port of Salerno, awaiting shipment. Colorful containers are lined up in the center of the image, while housing blocks stand in the background. Andreas Gursky's photo, taken from a mountain, has the composition of a classical landscape painting, yet it perfectly captures the essence of today's industrial world.
First major UK retrospective
The Hayward Gallery in London has reopened after a two-year renovation with a major retrospective of Gursky's works, featuring around 60 of his photos produced over the last 35 years. Although the German photographer is a rather reserved artist and doesn't often discuss his work publicly, he was a sought-after interview partner at the press conference on Wednesday.
Layers of perspective
Gursky's photographs are undeniably related to painting. His wide-angle, large-scale pictures allow the viewer to equally discover all layers and elements of the image. "I'm interested in the composition of the world," the German artist has said.
Gursky has been traveling the world for years, developing his photographic studies of society. He also spends months or even years working on the digital post-production of his photos, which contributes to their painterly quality.
The work "Review," from 2011, is not a historical shot but rather a digital creation: Gursky placed the heads of four German chancellors in front of a Barnett Newman painting. Chancellor Angela Merkel is wearing a yellow suit, while Helmut Kohl, the "Chancellor of the Unity," sits to her right. Gerhard Schröder and Helmut Schmidt — recognizable with the cigarette smoke — are on the left.
This view of the Rhine River is one of the cult works of the German photographer. It was created in 1999 and features Gursky's artistic approach of dissecting the layers of the world. "Rhine II, 1999" sold for more than $3 million at an auction in New York in 2011, a record sum for a photograph.
Rows upon rows
This photo showing colorful rows of products in a supermarket is another one of the artist's digital compositions. Gursky often offers a condensed interpretation of actual environments. He is fascinated by serial structures, and they can be found in many of his celebrated works.