Andreas Gursky – Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre
25 Jan 2018 – 22 Apr 2018
Southbank Centre, London
Hayward Gallery reopens in January 2018 with the first major UK retrospective of the work of acclaimed German photographer Andreas Gursky.
Gursky, known for his large-scale, often spectacular pictures that portray emblematic sites and scenes of the global economy and contemporary life, is widely regarded as one of the most significant photographers of our time.
A true innovator engaged in thinking about and picturing the times in which we live in, Gursky is the perfect artist for launching the 50th anniversary year of the Hayward
– Ralph Rugoff, Hayward Gallery Director
Driven by an interest and insight into ‘the way that the world is constituted’, as well as what he describes as ‘the pure joy of seeing’, Gursky makes photographs that are not just depictions of places or situations, but reflections on the nature of image-making and the limits of human perception. Often taken from a high vantage point, these images make use of a ‘democratic’ perspective that gives equal importance to all elements of his highly detailed scenes.
This exhibition features around 60 of the artist’s ground-breaking photographs from the early 1980s through to his most recent work, and includes some of his most iconic pictures such as Paris, Montparnasse (1993) and Rhine II (1999, remastered 2015).
Andreas Gursky marks the beginning of the Hayward Gallery’s 50th anniversary year and is the first exhibition to take place in the gallery following its two-year refurbishment. For the first time since the Hayward’s original opening, the gallery’s pyramid roof lights will allow natural light into the spaces below.
The exhibition includes some of the artist’s most well known works including Paris, Montparnasse (1993), an immense and iconic photograph showing a seemingly endless block of flats; and Rhine II (1999/2015) a sleek digitally-tweaked vision of the river as a contemporary minimalist symbol. Kamiokande (2007) featuring the vast underground water tank within the Kamioka Nucleon Decay Experiment, Japan; and May Day IV (2000/2014) depicting hundreds of revellers at Germany’s long-running Mayday techno music festival. Often employing a bird’s-eye perspective, these large-format pictures – which rival the scale of monumental paintings – boast an abundance of precisely captured details, all of which are uncannily in focus.
Since the late 1980s, Gursky has depicted a broad spectrum of contemporary life including sites of commerce, industry and tourism across the globe, making pictures that draw attention to our changing relationship with the natural world and chronicle the effects of globalisation on day-to-day life.
From the frenzied stock exchange seen in Chicago Board of Trade III (2009) to the vast distribution centre shown in Amazon (2016), and from the sea of candy-coloured budget items featured in of 99 Cent II, Diptych (2001) to the eerily empty display shelves in Prada II (1997) his images provide a sweeping visual record of our age. Over the past three decades, Gursky has increasingly made use of computer-enabled post-production techniques to make photographs whose scale, precision, composition, and complexity are unprecedented and have critically expanded the possibilities of the medium.