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Montparnasse (Gursky, Andreas), 1993

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Andreas Gursky

The former student of Bernd Becher, Germany’s most successful photo-artist in the international scene, Andreas Gursky, shares with Wall an interest in the relationship between painting and photography. His likewise large-format images are photographic ‹intensifications› of visual realities, which he stages and postprocesses digitally. Gursky has an interest in ornamental structures and the interaction of architecture with the social fabric, where individuals become part of an anonymous and standardized mass – as in the image «Montparnasse,» for example. The multi-storey, unusually wide building was just too big to photograph all at once. Therefore Gursky made two photographs, which he joined together digitally so that the assembled image resembles a single photograph again. As in a picture puzzle, two levels of image-recognition emerge: from the distance the façade appears to be a flat, ornamental and lifeless structure; under closer inspection, we detect people, furnishings, human activity, and the rigidly-structured façade becomes alive.

Gursky not only engages electronic processing possibilities for such montage work on photographic


reference material; he also accentuates from anew how form and surface relate to one another, as in the extremely colorful, detail-laden picture «Chicago Board of Trade» (1999). In this depiction of the bustling Chicago stock market, Gursky intervenes in such a way that, alongside the wealth of detail in certain sections of the image, one also sees sections so blurred that they seem to dissolve in pure movement. This game played with ‹moving› and ‹motionless› zones irritates the viewer’s gaze, because the documentary character emphasized on the one side seems to dissolve because of the newly-adjusted sharp and blurred sections on the other. Gursky reflects the depicting functions of the medium without assigning the image a photographic authenticity.

Apart from the unalike themes and strategies in their images, in a fundamental manner both Gursky and Wall investigate the relationship between appearance and reality, truth and arrangement. In this connection, each draws from the complete repertoire of contemporary photography in his own specific way. Like Gursky’s subtle interventions in the photographed image, the comprehensively planned Wall-images, void

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