Monday, December 8, 2008

Andreas Gursky @Matthew Marks

JTF (just the facts): 4 large scale color photographs (on the order of 8 x 16 feet), displayed in the main, natural lit gallery. (Installation shot at right.) A fifth photograph is being shown (on its own) at the other gallery location.

Comments/Context: When we look back on photography from the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries, Andres Gursky will likely be one of the first artists who will be mentioned as having somehow captured the spirit of these times. His images are unlike anything else that had come before in terms of size, scale, and level of staggering detail. He has taken everything from buildings and architecture to trading floors, nightclubs, and 99 cent stores and imposed his sense of formal structure to create mesmerizing works that dominate walls. Along the way, he has unabashedly but artfully manipulated the images digitally to create his desired effects. The view point is always from on high and distanced, the people are always in extreme detail and yet anonymous in their environment, and there are nearly always compositional systems and patterns that move your eye around the picture.

The group of new works in this exhibit are all taken inside the Cocoon Club in Frankfurt, and these pictures travel the same road as other previous Gursky works inside techno nightclubs (seas of people, waves of movement, the interplay of individuals and crowds, theatrical lighting). As such, beyond one image that is a less than interesting self portrait of the artist and his son, there isn't anything new here and none of these pictures match the greatness of some his better know works. All the images are quite dark and muddy, and even the ones with large crowds and wild lights don't really jump off the wall; they actually draw you in to look more closely at the details. Heading into this exhibit, we were eagerly expecting to be wowed by the new Gursky show; and while his works are always visually interesting and carefully crafted, and we are overall fans of his art, unfortunately, these particular pitcures didn't move us and the show was ultimately a let down.

Collector's POV: Gursky's work is consistently priced at the very top end of the range for photography, routinely crossing the $1 million dollar mark for his best (and most popular) works. Priced at 600000 and 700000 Euros apiece (and notice that the prices were quoted to us in Euros in a New York gallery - an interesting development), these works are being marketed into that same price window, although we think these particular examples aren't of the same quality.
Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)

Through December 24th

523 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011

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