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Lot 144: Andreas Gursky (b. 1955)
N.Y. Mercantile Exchange
signed, titled, numbered and dated 'N.Y. Mercantile Exchange 2000 1/6 Andreas Gursky' (on the reverse)
colour coupler print mounted on Plexiglas in wooden artist frame
81 1/2 x 101 1/2 in. (207 x 257.8cm.)
Executed in 2000, this work is number one from an edition of six
THE PROPERTY OF A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTOR
"I am never interested in the individual, but in the human species and its environment." (Andreas Gursky, quoted in an interview with Veit Gorner, in www.postmedia.net.)
Over the past ten years Gursky's unforgettable panoramic visions of the human insect going about its business on planet Earth have become a part of mainstream consciousness. Invoking and revealing a sense of the sublime within the empty grey vistas of suburban Germany, the busy dockyards of Hong Kong or the organised chaos of the world's stock exchanges, Gursky has applied many of the pictorial techniques of the German Romantic tradition of painting to his photography.
Using the heightened and manipulable realism possible with modern photographic techniques to convey a cinematic portrait of the contemporary world, Gursky studies his fellow man from the viewpoint of a curious but outside observer. Seeing humanity as a collective species, Gursky illustrates the visual effect this collective entity generates and the structural grid-like impact it has on the world. There is a strong sense of geometry at work within many of Gursky's photographic visions. It is a geometry clearly human in origin that in the artist's hands often takes on the appearance of being alien and strange. From the strict confining grids and rectangles of his Paris, Montparnasse and the boxes of the Shanghai bank building to his rows of Prada shoes or the sharp line of skiers traversing the Engadin, a sense of opposition between the rigid geometry of the human and the more fluid forms of nature seems to lie at the heart of much of his work. Nowhere is this phenomenon more clearly demonstrable than in his pictures of the world's money exchanges, where a condensed mass of humanity is thrown into direct contrast with the strict centralising geometry of the architecture. With the multi-coloured grid of the computer screens seeming to dictate the pace and rhythm of the chaotic sprawl of human activity below it, N.Y. Mercantile Exchange is a work that epitomises this contrast more than most. Highlighting the amorphous sprawl of humanity worshipping at the temple of global commerce it is a powerful portrait of our divided yet united world, a contemporary vision of unity in diversity.
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Jay Bernier Gallery, Athens.
Private Collection, Greece.
Anon. sale, Christie's New York, 17 May 2001, lot 336.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Artist or Maker: Andreas Gursky (b. 1955)
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