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Thursday, 10 November 2011


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That was well worth the time to watch. It was very, very interesting and clarifying. German photography has been on this path for some time and although I have a book or two of German work in my library, I am just beginning to appreciate it.

What I love about your blog is the variety of subjects linked to photography and the depth. Your writings, combined with others, of course, have been influential in how I see the world. I have found myself taking more risks in what I photograph, although I have not yet shown much of that work to my friends. But that is only because I am thinking more about my work before I present a collection – which has made all the difference.

For those who are seeing Ben Lewis for the first time I'd just like to add that he made a splendid series called "Art Safari", which can be found in the normal places on-line.

Yesterday I said I didn't "get" the photograph. Today, after watching the video, I understand it better. I still think Gursky has better images, but then I can't afford $4 million anyway....

I saw the Ben Lewis' documentary on Dutch TV years ago. I had never heard of Gursky before then. His images are quite overwhelming to me. Thanks for putting this story up, thanks Mathijs!

Any readers from London can go see 3 Gursky pictures that are on display until 27 November at the new White Cube in Bermondsey. The gallery is worth the visit for the space alone. There are two fairly recent ones, and this one, from 1993:


The '93 one is pretty nasty close up, and we were rather taken aback by that. To me (and the two people I was with) it seemed bady oversharpened and had really foul noise in shadows - generally just not nice. Had to get quite a long way away from it. I had always liked this one a lot from seeing it in books.

You can get a NEW Gursky for around the $750,000 mark I think. If you don't like those, there are three or four Jeff Walls in the show as well, which are similarly priced. White Cube is having a Jeff Wall solo show of new work at the Mason's Yard gallery, which opens in a week or two. I would say Wall could run AG pretty close for the #1 label at the moment.

'Everywhere You Look, There's Always a Gursky'

Exactly. I already thought about this, reading the original post. Some people are upset about the price payed for this object. And fair enough, it ir absolutley out of sync with anything. And then they try to dismiss the object and construct a relation between crazy economics and the artists work.
But at this point one is mixing apples and oranges, because what we really hate (or should hate) is the accumulation and of wealth and its insane spending towards status symbols, not the symbols themselves.
If someone would pay me 4 million whatever for one of my prints I would take it, but still remain in inner (and then outer) opposition to the economic system that makes this possible.


(That's American slang for "you've got it" or "you're exactly right.")


Ben Lewis rocks big time. His approach to art is just as I like it, understanding the art and demistifying the hype.

En eh, Mathijs, dank je wel, the ARTE docu I knew allready but this one I must have missed. The spot were Gursky took Rhine I knew as well (I go to Dusseldorf a lot these days since they have great photoshows there and I park my car in the Gursky so to speak).

And eh, Robert, last august I saw a copy of Montparnasse as well, and I must say I did not object that much. Remembering it was made with technology from 1993 not by nowaday technology. I guess he used Velvia back then and Velvia is a BITCH (capital period) to scan on any scanner I prefer Kodachrome (oops, I said it). That might explain some of the noise. I have mastered the art now (as in yes today) and it includes making three scans at different exposures and running an exposure blend in PShop (or in my case Gimp). What did disturb me however was the ever so slight cushioning in the left and right part of the image. It was made with two negatives that were fused together (as Rhine II is as well, if you look you can still see the join ever so faintly) and that means you can see two cushions. Now knowing how computer power and algorithms developed Andreas can't be blamed. He expanded the limits of technology and art and that why I like his pictures to bits.

BTW, the best Gursky book I know accompanied his show in Krefeld. Gursky 80-08......a must buy.

And eh, mark.....did the euro fall while I was wathing Gursky?

Greetings, Ed

Thank you Mike! This series on Gursky and the Dusseldorf school is some of your best work. It illustrates the power of blogging at its best. Nothing like a good writer and a great collection of passionate followers to really thrash a subject and make us all instant experts on it.

Do you think the photo of the Rhein would have sold if it had been offered in one of your print sales without identifying the photographer?

Thanks for the video link. Not only a glimpse at Gursky but my belovèd Bechers got a run as well.

Not at all impressed by Gursky from what I have seen here. Whether that will change if/when I see his prints in person, I do not know.

Really great video. As a current student of photography, we are taught a whole lot about the so called 'deadpan aesthetic' that really began at the Dusseldorf Academy, and Gursky is the perfect example of that way of seeing. However, as someone who grew up in the 1990's, it is impossible for me to not comment on the wonderful cover of the song 'Barbie Girl' turned into 'Gursky Girl' that plays throughout the film. That was the true deal sealer for me.

Everywhere I Look, There's Always a Friedlander .

Money aside, because as a rank amateur it's outside my sphere of influence for what's a good piece of art, i have both less and more respect for Gursky after watching this video.

More: He is a "nice chap" humble, pursuing his artistry and without too much pretence (which i get from the film). I like that as an artist. Because of that i'll like him more, and i will pay more attention to his work. But not pay that much for a piece as I can't afford a print offer on TOP, let alone a Gursky ;-)

Less: The term "objective". Yes, you can argue that all photos have a slant, as we frame/compose/press the shutter. That, however, is a given and an inevitability with photography so therefore it should be taken out of the equation alltogether.

If you are going to claim "objectivity" the minimum anyone would expect is that your photos are a "real" scene... you don't p*ss about in PS or the darkroom to create that scene. Excusing minor image corrections for exposure/colour balance, what you see is what you get. That is objectivity, removing industrial backgrounds is not.

If Gursky or the curators said it was a pastiche, homage, or comment on society I'd run with it all the way, that would be fine, but because of the claim of objectivity they are not that at all.

What is interesting is that overall my resonse to the video, despite a massive objection to the process/outcome, is that i like Gursky more than i did before watching it. We all respond better for seeig people in action, even better when they are "nice chaps", despite their flaws.

I struggle to understand why he is the darling of the artworld as much as he is. Is it the fakery Does it tap into some of the hyper-reality mentality that is prevalent in the arts?

I saw an exhibition of Andreas Gursky's in the Hyde Park Gallery in London in the late 1990s, as I recall. I just happened to wander in from the park, had never heard of him before. Not weak stuff, and not just because of the monumental size of the pictures, though that scale is part of his art itself.

As it turned out, it was his first exhibition in the UK, long before he was getting these record prices.

I'm still having a strange feeling about it. I had never heard of Gursky. When I look at his photographs I see things that I have seen, noticed, and photographed myself before. And of course many others too, say Ben Lewis above or the photographs of Sao Paulo by Salgado for instance.

The thing is I have seen and photographed many other things too that don't look like Gurskys. Maybe being an artist is not about originality of vision but about sticking to a specific vision and then pursuing it relentlessly with all possible means, in his case, photomanipulation and large printing to enhance the underlying ideas. More power to him but it makes me feel a bit empty inside.

So looking at the Toyota - Toys 'R' Us image I couldn't help think "well that looks familiar". Sure enough it's where I used to walk at lunch time when working for Toyota F1 in Marsdorf (Cologne, Germany). It's a view from the the hard shoulder of the A4 motorway.

Whilst this was indeed a fascinating "hey I was there" moment the other fascinating thing is that when the picture was taken the central barrier shown was in fact of the metal "arnco" kind. It has since (we think 2005/2006) been replaced by the concrete style shown in the Gursky image. Life copying art? Spooky!

The power lines are shopped in.

Do a google street view from this link;
and look SW.

Kind regards,

(mod - add to original if possible)

PS - Ooooh can we do a "google street view recreation of famous photo's" contest? And do I win?

I have an emotional reaction to photographs that interest me. After viewing a couple of Bernd/Becher gas tank images I want to go get a Starbucks. To me, banality isn't special. If it is, it isn't banality.
I've made more than a few accidental Gurskys. They usually go in the trash. That isn't to say that I don't find any of his works interesting. There's just no connection, for me.
If you like this work, great. I can't seem to get it.
I'm reminded of a much-celebrated exhibit at ICP I saw back in 2006. After spending a couple hours viewing the works, I questioned whether I could even call myself a photographer, since I was so disconnected from most of what was hanging on those walls.
As I write this, I understand that this may be more about my own limitations.
I'm such a Philistine.
Please excuse me. I've got to go photograph a couple of grizzled old World War II veterans.

I have this on an old video recording when shown in the UK. The great thing is his effort to create a Gursky and then asking the great man himself what he thinks of them....he's very polite!

Your finding humor in the video is proper, Mike. Ben Lewis says on his website http://www.benlewis.tv/films/gursky-world/gursky-world-the-birth-of-art-safari/ that "Gursky World" was his "first art comedy doco."

I like Lewis's decision that in attempting to come to where Gursky is, he should start with the same camera Gursky uses. But then of course, "Everywhere you look, there's a Gursky."

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