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david ebony's top ten

andreas gursky at matthew marks

Nov. 15 - Jan. 3, 1998  

May Day

   In the 12 large Andreas Gursky photos on view in this stunning show, everything appears to be bathed in an intense celestial light. The Düsseldorf artist, who studied with Bernd and Hilla Becher and whose father is a professional photographer, presents cool and detached images. However, in spite of their formal severity, they can be deeply moving. As seen through Gursky's lens, ordinary objects -- neat rows of sneakers lined up on store shelves, Hong Kong skyscrapers, a New York hotel lobby, the dance floor of a Frankfurt disco, and the Rhine River -- appear disconcerting and strange.

The artist manipulates light and color to subdue shadow, and the alloverness of the compositions allows one to scan the image, without settling in one area. A photo of a Jackson Pollock drip painting, One, #31, 1950 included in the exhibition hammers home the point. A true revolutionary, Gursky eliminates the hierarchal implication of the single focal point. One could say that these brilliant works signal freedom of the gaze.

In February, 1998, the Milwaukee Art Museum presents Gursky's first U.S. museum show.

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