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Gursky's monumental work on show in London

Stefan Dege eg
January 26, 2018

Photographer Andreas Gursky is featured in a major retrospective at the newly reopened Hayward Gallery in London. His spectacular photographs aim to dissect and reassemble the world.

A woman stands in front of the Andreas Gursky photo Rhine II
Image: picture-alliance/Zumapress/R.Tang

Solar panels spread across a hilly landscape like a black monster. In his photograph of a 70-hectare (173-acre) photovoltaic system in Les Mees, France, Andreas Gursky demonstrates the ambivalent aspects of an environmentally friendly technology. While it monopolizes the space, it also makes for a picturesque landscape.

Embodying his artistic approach, this picture by the 63-year-old German photographer headlines a new exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London.

Gursky's trademark is monumentally large works, filling entire walls with their overwhelming strength.

His portraits of society and the economy appear ultra-realistic, yet remain rather symbolic representations of the world: Gursky uses digital post-production to add new layers to his depictions of reality.

Read more: How German photo artist Andreas Gursky messes with your sense of reality

Gursky's reorganization of the world

His art is mainly created on the computer, where he assembles images into new contexts. "I'm interested in the way the world is made up," said the photographer, who is inspired by the "pure joy of seeing."

Gursky's photos are reminiscent of paintings, with his methods demonstrating the limitations of human perception. His pictures are often taken from a high angle, offering a "democratic" perspective on the world, where all elements have "equal rights."

Read more: Why Germany's best photographers all studied with Bernd and Hilla Becher

This can be observed in the some 60 works now on show at the exhibition, some of them dating back to the 1980s. The show includes the cult works "Paris, Montparnasse" and "Rhine II," which fetched a record sum of $3.1 million (€2.5 million) at a New York auction in 2011.

The Andreas Gursky retrospective runs from January 25 through April 22 at the Hayward Gallery in London.