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Chicago, Board of Trade

Chicago, Board of Trade
signed, titled, numbered and dated 'Chicago Board of Trade, '97, 3/6, A. Gursky' (on the reverse)
chromogenic print
framed: 72 1/2 x 94 1/2 in. (184.1 x 240 cm.)
Executed in 1997. This work is number three from an edition of six.
Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2003
P. Schjeldahl, "Gurskyvision," Village Voice, no. 42, 16 December 1997, p. 101 (illustrated).
R. Bevan, "Gursky at the Serpentine", Art & Auction, 11 January 1999, p. 83 (illustrated).
M. Gautier, "Vues imprenables sur readymades: La photographie selon Andrew Gursky", Les Cahiers, no 67, Spring 1999, p. 70.
R. Golden, Photography: Complete Guide to the Greatest Artists of the Photographic Age, London, 1999, p. 97 (illustrated).
New York, Matthew Marks Gallery, Andreas Gursky, November 1997-January 1998 (another example exhibited).
Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Andreas Gursky: Fotografien 1984 bis heute, August-October 1998, p. 32 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
London, Architectural Association, Reconstructing Space: Architecture in Recent German Photography, April-May 1999, p. 92 (another from the edition exhibited and illustrated).
Aspen Art Museum, 20 Years/20 Artists, 1999, n.p., no. 19 (another from the edition exhibited and illustrated).
Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg; Fotomuseum Winterthur; London, Serpentine Gallery; Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art; Turin, Castello di Rivoli, Museo d'arte contemporanea; Lisbon, Cento Cultural de Belém, Andreas Gursky: Fotografien 1994-1998, May 1998-January 2000, pp. 60 and 61 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Stuttgart, Zentrum für Kunst und Medien, just what is it, 100 Years of Modern Art from Private Collections in Baden-Württemberg, December 2009-April 2010, pp. 326-327 and 371 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Sale room notice
The medium of this lot should read ‘chromogenic print’.

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Lot Essay

Teeming with visual information, Chicago, Board of Trade illustrates Andreas Gursky’s signature approach to the medium of photography. Often creating depictions of busy scenes from a vantage point far above the commotion, the artist is known for his detached views and incredible detail. One of his immersive representations of various stock exchanges around the world, Gursky’s monumental composition engulfs the viewer. The throng of people in the center of this example churns in a riot of color and movement that becomes oddly still as one steps back from the surface. “The camera’s enormous distance from these figures means they become de-individualized”, the photographer explains. “... So I am never interested in the individual but in the human species and its environment” (A. Gursky, quoted in V. Gomer, “I generally let things develop slowly”, partially reproduced at Favoring formal concerns over the stories of individuals, both his populated scenes and those devoid of figures step outside of journalistic or story-based photography to explore visual tensions and the manipulation of sight and looking through aesthetic and conceptual decisions. Choosing to foreground specific colors, centering groups of people so that they become compositional elements as he does in the current example, or creating planes of infinite focus that overwhelm the viewer on a grand scale, Gursky pushes documentary photography to its extremes.

Though he adopted digital technology in the early 1990s, Gursky’s approach is not as straightforward as deploying the shutter at the ideal moment. Instead, he leverages all aspects of the art form to produce the image that most accurately conveys his artistic concerns. As art historian Peter Galassi explains, “Gursky begins with one or more conventional (chemical) negatives…the negative is scanned to produce a digital file that may be displayed on the computer monitor and revised at will—pixel by pixel if necessary. The file is then used to produce a new negative, which is printed conventionally, making use of the usual darkroom techniques to control contrast, color balance and so forth. In other words Gursky’s method, like his art, is a merger between old technology and the new” (P. Galassi, “Gursky’s World”, in Andreas Gursky, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2001, p. 39). Using newer technology allows the artist to go beyond the traditional constraints inherent to photography and to rework compositions after the shutter has been closed. It also allows for better resolution at a scale traditionally reserved for history paintings and abstract gestures. By competing with these established forms, Gursky continues and stokes the conversation between painting and photography that has been raging since the latter’s invention.

Gursky traces his artistic lineage back to the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf where he studied under the famed conceptual photographer duo Bernd and Hilla Becher. Known for their documentary photographs of industrial buildings and utilitarian settings often arranged into categorical types, they harnessed a straightforward, objective mode of capturing images that disperse with emotional content. Gursky, following close behind, chose instead to focus on locations and groups of people important to an understanding of modern life. Depicting subjects as diverse as 99-cent shops, festivals, and trading floors, his large-scale photographs “capture the essence of the economic and social situation of the late twentieth century” (N. Zimmer, Andreas Gursky, exh. cat., Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel 2007, p. 69). Using post-production methods to enhance clarity and color, Gursky creates images that the human eye could not capture. In Chicago, Board of Trade, the artist brings the entire exchange floor into focus at once, thereby offering a massive amount of information for the viewer to parse and creating an eerie stillness from a visually chaotic scene.

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