On view at Sprüth Magers London is an exhibition of important early landscapes from German photographer Andreas Gursky, created between the late 1980s and early 1990s. The photos were taken before Gursky began exploring the use of digital photography, and are simple in form and content, often titled after the location where they were taken. The exhibition will continue through June 21st.
Gursky has characterized these works as having an “extraterrestrial” perspective, appropriate within a database of images of the landscape of the earth, so that the viewer can understand it even if he or she has no knowledge or preconceptions about the geographical location. Critic Martin Hentschel has called the works a kind of “mental image…that has been passed down to us by the history of painting and inscribed into our collective memory.” They often represent concrete experiences of specific places in the world where most people have not likely been; or, at the very least, perspectives that most have not likely seen.
Niagra Falls (1989), for example, exposes a popular tourist attraction from a bird’s eye view. Instead of being a tourist photo itself, the landscape includes a tourist boat in the photo, full of visitors wearing black rain gear, heading toward the immense crashing waters. Mettmann, Autobahn (1993), in contrast, displays a peaceful scene intersected by grey bars, which hold a Plexiglass screen that act as a noise barrier along a motorway. In another work, Alba (1989), Gursky depicts a still river and a stony riverbed through which fishermen wade, framed by a dark Italian forest. These images capture a particular time and place, in a way that transcends the experiences of the places and instead represents an outsider (or “extraterrestrial”) perspective.
Born in 1955 in Leipzig, Germany, Gursky currently lives and works in Düsseldorf. He has had solo exhibitions at The National Museum of Art, Osaka (2014); The National Art Center, Tokyo (2013); Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf (2013); Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (2012); Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2011); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2011); MCA Chicago (2011); and SF MOMA, San Francisco (2011). His first career retrospective: Retrospektive 1984-2007 was held at Haus der Kunst in Munich, and toured to Istanbul Modern, Sharjah Art Museum (2007), Ekaterina Foundation, Moscow and National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2008).
The current exhibition, Andreas Gursky: Early Lanscapes will continue at Sprüth Magers in London through June 21, 2014.
Andreas Gursky: Early Landscapes (Installation View), courtesy Sprüth Magers Berlin London
Exhibition Page [Sprüth Magers]