Andreas Gursky is most famous for having taken the most expensive photograph to ever be sold at auction. This was his Rhein II which sold for $4.3 million in 2011. His photographs are nearly always enormous and either crowded with figures or completely vacuous. Now a selection of works, old and new are on display at White Cube, Bermondsey.
Gursky takes large-format photography to the extreme. Among the more familiar work on display are vast images taken from above of festival crowds where each figure stands out individually. It is remarkable how in Gursky’s photographs the viewer can read each character in the details of their gesture or fashion, despite their being hundreds on display, such as in Day IV, a mass festival print. You could easily spend hours in front of the images reading it, however, you may need a ladder to do so.
As well as crowds of music fans, Gursky also photographs landscapes. This is displayed in the form of scenic images of Oceans, Thailand and Antarctica. However, it is the new work on display which I found to be the most innovative. These comprise of a series of superheroes in isolated locations. Where Gursky’s images are usually crammed with figures or else none at all, these magical, powerful characters are nearly always shown alone. The landscape seems to dominate them as they are shown as tiny representations almost like children’s toys. Normally where in comics and movies Ironman and Batman are seen on top of the world, they are shown at the bottom of the image, perhaps looking into a sunset with Superman resting his head on his hand.
Also on display are Gurksy’s own creations of modern day museums and galleries. These include recognisable artworks from other artist’s represented by White Cube, such as the suits worn by Gilbert and George and Damien Hirst’s infamous formaldehyde shark. Gursky has even included Jay Jopling peering into the gallery in the background.
The exhibition concludes with a film entitled The Wash. It is very simple but mesmerising at the same time. The room is lit with fluorescent blue-purple lights with a trance like soundtrack. The film shows a stretch of open water, as though you are on a journey but you don’t know where. I can only liken it to sitting on the back of a private water taxi in Venice, driving away into the sunset on a stretch of open water.
The show is stunning and has something for everyone.
Andreas Gursky is on display at White Cube Bermondsey until 6 July
On a side note away from art for a moment, this sunday I will be taking part in a charity run to raise money for b-eat, a charity that supports people with eating disorders. Having battled with anorexia myself it is a charity very close to my heart and if anyone would like to donate to the course I will leave the link below: