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Andreas Gursky (German, born 1955)

About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

German photographer. Gursky’s work is characterized by the tension between the clarity and formal nature of his photographs and the ambiguous intent and meaning they present, occasioned by their insertion into a ‘high-art’ environment. It is comparable to that of contemporaries such as Thomas Struth, Thomas Ruff and Candida Höfer, all of whom were influenced by the documentary approach of Bernd and Hilla Becher. During the 1980s and 1990s Gursky’s work took on an increasingly global range of subjects, and he presented his images on an ever larger scale. Through all his work runs a sense of impersonality, a depiction of the structures and patterns of collective existence, often represented by the unitary behaviour of large crowds. His images of the stock exchanges of North America and East Asia are exemplary in the way that he uses crowds to create a type of picture comparable in formal terms to the ‘all-over’ compositions of the Abstract Expressionist painters. In the early 1990s Gursky used this format to represent grand urban landscape vistas in the Far East, juxtaposing different urban zones and suggesting an interplay between the zones of leisure and commerce. This theme was also taken up in his photographs depicting Prada shop displays, for instance in o.T.V. (186×443 mm, 1996; see 1999 exh. cat., p. 20), in which assorted training shoes are lined up in an austere Minimalist display. Gursky’s distance from Cartier-Bresson’s dictum of the ‘decisive moment’ and his concomitant rejection of the truth of the candid image is underlined by his use of digital manipulation. Bundestag (284×207 cm, colour print, 1998; see 1999 exh. cat., p. 59), a highly complicated view into the newly built German government building, relies to a high degree on digital manipulation for its dazzling effect. Gursky lives and works in Düsseldorf.

John-Paul Stonard
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press


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