My photographs are “not abstract.” Ultimately they are always identifiable. Photography in general simply cannot disengage from the object.
In the wake of Andreas Gursky’s survey exhibition nicht abstract at Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Germany, Gagosian is pleased to present Not Abstract II, an exhibition of recent photographs by the renowned German artist, accompanied by an electronic sound installation created by Canadian DJ and producer Richie Hawtin.
From images of nature to those of cities, crowds, and products, Gursky seems to create what already exists. In his photographs, variations in distance serve to emphasize contemporary truths, whereby subject matter is presented in a detailed uniformity that privileges neither foreground nor background. In Les Meés (2016), solar panels, rolling hills, and a gray-blue sky become bold areas of color, as opposed to elements in a landscape. Hawtin’s minimalist techno soundscape, composed in response to Gursky’s art, “breathes” with the photographs, inspiring longer pauses that allow each image to expand beyond its frame.
In several untitled works never before exhibited in the United States, Gursky takes this effect a step further: aerial views of tulip fields tip the landscape up and create homogeny from variety, the colors blending together to form horizontal bands, like sheet music filled in with impressionist hues. That these works are deliberately untitled emphasizes his longstanding interest in recasting, time and again throughout his artistic career, the formal questions activated in postwar American abstraction. However, according to the artist, these photographs are not abstract, because abstraction is unrecognizable. From afar they appear as ambiguous geometries and gradients, but move a step closer and the eye refocuses to reveal their content. Once the tulips are recognized as such, there is no returning to abstraction. Thus Gursky offers up the threshold of abstraction, just in time to make it disappear.
Andreas Gursky and Richie Hawtin discuss their collaboration with art historian Laura Käding.
On the occasion of an exhibition at Gagosian, New York, Max Dax met with Andreas Gursky to speak with the photographer about his new work. Here, they discuss the consequences of the pandemic on certain works, the roles of techno music and art history in Gursky’s art process, and the necessary balance of beauty and honesty in the contemporary.
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2022
The Summer 2022 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, with two different covers—featuring Takashi Murakami’s 108 Bonnō MURAKAMI.FLOWERS (2022) and Andreas Gursky’s V & R II (2022).
Ive by Gursky: A Meeting of Minds
By exploring the conventions of past portraits of industrial designers and architects, Maria Morris Hambourg unpacks Andreas Gursky’s ingenious recent portrait of Apple designer Jony Ive to reveal its layered meanings.
Jacoba Urist profiles the legendary collector.
Cast of Characters
James Lawrence explores how contemporary artists have grappled with the subject of the library.