Andreas Gursky: Not Abstract II
by Celina Huynh
It’s safe to say that Andreas Gursky is one of the most significant contemporary photographers. His photo Rhein II (1999) sold for 4.3 million dollars, making it one of the most expensive photos in history. His exhibition Not Abstract II, is currently on view at the Gagosian Gallery accompanied by an audio component by Canadian DJ and producer Richie Hawtin.
Do you ever get anxiety when in a store like Burlington Coat Factory or TJ Maxx from the incredulous amount of stuff? The mounds of bath mats and carpets right next to the most random assortment of olive oils and chocolates… it’s incomprehensible how much stuff can inhabit one space. Gursky’s piece Media Markt heightens this anxiety by showing the shelves upon shelves of vacuum cleaners and irons and coffee machines (and the list goes on). Or his work Amazon which depicts endless rows of packages waiting to be delivered. Since Amazon is an online shopping platform, the amount of stuff it entails is actually infinite unbounded by the possibilities of the web.
If you don’t read the title cards, you wouldn’t know that these were images of a home store or the vaults of Amazon, but that does not make them abstract. Gursky isn’t abstracting anything in any the pieces on view. The subjects are displayed on prints that are impressive in both size and visibility. The incredibly sharp definition of the images, whether looking at them up close or from a distance, creates a confusion of perspective. By nature, the farther an object is, the more ambiguous it appears. But even as you back away from Gursky’s pieces, the image still develops, perhaps because the world that these images inhabit are beyond comprehension. The tulip fields can be confused as an old carpet from afar, but if you look closely, you can see people or flowers and you realize the obviousness of what he photographed. The image of the tulip field is an image of a tulip field. It’s not abstract, but it certainly is confusing, incomprehensible even.
This exhibit is on view through Dec 23, 2016. Opening hours are Tues - Sat: 10am - 6pm. The gallery is located at 522 W 21st St, New York, NY 10011; Tel: (212) 741-1717.