Prior to Assignment Four, my tutor suggested I take a look at Andreas Gurksy, who employs a unique high point view of large-scale scenes. This innovative technique will provide me with an insight into a completely different style of photography which should provide me with a diverse and interesting approach to assignment four.
Gursky’s perspective on the world is starkly different to anything I have ever seen before. Throughout his work there runs a sense of impersonality, patterns of collective existence of the behaviour of large crowds of people. This measured and detached approach is what makes Gurksy’s work so unique. “He focuses on places and on human beings in landscapes, built environments and crowds so enormous that people are tiny and anonymous. This is earth seen from Gursky’s famous distanced view, looking down like a Martian from above. People are at leisure, at work, at airports, at rock concerts, doing the things that people living in contemporary society do.(1)” These large-scale images are both dramatic and insightful. They tell the story of the existence of human beings from a fascinating point of view. They view people as a species of millions, as opposed to individuals. This is a viewpoint that I have never considered before, and whilst I love the dramatic and original feel of the images in terms of art, I think the large scale of Gursky’s work is a little depressing and impersonal. The images of huge crowds remove the personality and uniqueness of each person; making us appear insignificant. However, whilst Gursky’s style is not to my taste, it cannot be denied that the sheer magnitude of his images creates a perspective that is hugely interesting to view.
The interest of these images is furthered by the captivating scenes and situations that he chooses to photograph. This interesting subject matter is a huge part of the success of Gurksy’s work. From factories, to concerts, office blocks, and supermarkets; Gursky’s scenes of choice are all vastly intriguing and thus produce successful images. “He began to focus on scenes and places representing the international sentiment of contemporary society. Excessive detail became a hallmark of his contemporary idiom, evident in photographs such as 99 Cent and the May Day series. Today his work continues to depict scenes occurring in immediately recognizable urban spaces, ranging from department stores and hotels to the German Parliament and the Chicago Board of Trade.(2)”
We see some of Andreas Gurksy’s amazing work below;
Gursky himself admits that he is not interested in capturing individual’s personalities; “I often show human figures from behind and thus the landscape is observed «through» a second lens. I don’t name the activities of the human figures specifically and hence do not question what they do in general. The camera’s enormous distance from these figures means that they become de-individualized. So I am never interested in the individual, but in the human species and its environment. This is also true of Rhein. I wasn’t interested in an unusual, possibly picturesque view of the Rhine, but in the most contemporary possible view of it.(8)” Gursky’s aim is to capture the human species as an entirety, and not as individuals. His images tell the story of human life in its environment, so capturing places is hugely important to Gursky’s style. His stunning view of the Rhine is possibly Gursky’s most famous picture, and definitely his most expensive!! His unique viewpoint is seen even in landscape images such as this.
Whilst Gurksy’s approach is too impersonal for my taste, I can appreciate the stunning artistic images that he produces. Gursky’s wide range of interesting and diverse locations is a pointer which I intend to carry into assignment four. I have learnt a lot from this amazingly unique photographer, and his work has shown me a completely different viewpoint to photography than I have ever seen before.
(1) CANADIAN ART (2009), Andreas Gursky: Interview with Insight, Available from: http://www.canadianart.ca/features/2009/07/09/andreas-gursky-insight/ [Accessed 26/06/13]
(2) ARTNET (2013), Andreas Gursky, Available from: http://www.artnet.com/artists/andreas-gursky/ [Accessed 26/06/13]
(3-4) KISS ART (2010), Andreas Gursky, Available from: http://www.kissart.net/2010/08/andreas-gursky/ [Accessed 26/06/13]
(5-7) C4 CONTEMPORARY ART (2013), Profile: Andreas Gursky, Available from: http://www.c4gallery.com/artist/database/andreas-gursky/andreas-gursky.html [Accessed 26/06/13]
(8) POST MEDIA (2013), Andreas Gursky, Available from: http://www.postmedia.net/999/gursky.htm [Accessed 26/06/13]
(9) C4 CONTEMPORARY ART (2013), Profile: Andreas Gursky, Available from: http://www.c4gallery.com/artist/database/andreas-gursky/andreas-gursky.html [Accessed 26/06/13]