London’s Hayward Gallery presents the first major UK retrospective of the work of acclaimed German photographer Andreas Gursky.
Gursky is a landscape photographer who is best is known for his large-scale pictures that portray scenes of the global economy and contemporary life. This retrospective features sixty-eight of the artist’s photographs, from the 1980s through to eight new works which can seen for the first time in this exhibition.
The exhibition includes some of the artist’s most well-known works including Paris, Montparnasse (1993), Rhine II (1999/2015). Kamiokande (2007) and May Day IV (2000/2014) These large-format pictures often work on a number of levels, on the surface they can take abstract forms, however look closer and there are lots of precisely captured details.
Gursky’s photographs offer a very different view of human existence with large natural landscapes often obscured by massive man-made structures or huge gatherings of people in various locations.
The eight new works in the exhibition Pyongyang VI (2007/2017) and Pyongyang VII (2007/2017) documenting North Korea’s Mass Games illustrates Gurky’s particular approach related to large crowds forming intricate patterns. These patterns are everywhere and Gursky finds them in a rubbish-strewn verge of a Spanish highway in El Ejido (2017), a stock exchange in Chicago Board of Trade III (2009), a vast distribution centre shown in Amazon (2016), and in a vast range of budget items in 99 Cent II, Diptych (2001).
One remarkable aspect of Gursky’s work has been his use of computer-enabled post-production techniques to enable his photographs despite often being on a massive scale to maintain a sharpness and precision that enables the smallest details to be clearly visible.
Much has been made of ‘Fake News’ in recent years, Gursky has undertaken experiments in manipulating images to create examples of ‘fictional photography’. Review (2015) shows a constructed fictional scene in which German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her three predecessors gaze at Barnett Newman’s Vir Heroicus Sublimis (1950–51).
Other highlights of the exhibition include Untitled XIX (2015), which depicts acres of Dutch tulips, Bahrain I (2005) which features the motor racing circuit and Tour de France (2007) which shows the route of the cycle race on a mountainside.
This intriguing exhibition introduces the compelling work of Andreas Gursky to a wider audience, the photographer’s considerable talent is in evidence in the wide range of works on display. Many of the photographs have an abstract beauty before you look closer and see the reality of many of the man- made patterns in their different shapes and forms.
The Andreas Gursky exhibition marks the beginning of the Hayward Gallery’s 50th anniversary year and is the first exhibition to take place in the Gallery following its refurbishment. For the first time ever, the gallery’s pyramid roof lights allow natural light into the spaces below.
Video Review available here
Andreas Gursky runs from 25 January – 22 April 2018 at the Hayward Gallery.
Opening times: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday 11-6pm, Tues Closed, Thursday 11-8pm
Prices: £16.00 – £7.25. Members go free
Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended
For more information , visit the Southbank Centre website here
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