"Andreas Gursky's best pictures of the past decade knock your socks off, and they're meant to. They're big, bold, full of color, and full of surprise. As each delivers its punch, the viewer is always wondering where it came from--and will continue to enjoy the seduction of surprise long after scrutinizing the picture in detail." - P. Galassi, Andreas Gursky, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2001, p. 9).
Following in the vein of his seminal 1990s work, Andreas Gursky's Love Parade depicts a vast and endless swarm of revelers in Berlin at the turn of the twenty-first century. Visually, the crowd functions as a single entity. The density of anonymous figures fills the composition as individual characteristics are difficult to decipher due to the artist's vantage point. According to Gursky, "the camera's enormous distance from these figures means they become de-individualized 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 [www.postmedia.net]). Thus the artist's lens effectively removes any trace of individualism from the frame and the figures depicted appear to exist only as a part of a greater and unified whole. Gursky's trademark long-distance vantage point "makes of the viewer a God-like presence, everywhere and nowhere at once, granting us a sense of overarching possession while excluding us from direct participation in the toy-like realm." (P. Galassi, Andreas Gursky, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2001, p. 25). This element of detachment lends a sense of abstraction to the image.
The Love Parade was a festival held annually in the years after the fall of the Berlin Wall when hundreds of thousands of Germans flocked to the streets to celebrate peace and love, packing every open space in the city. Love Parade, however, does not function as a mere documentation of the event as the subject matter becomes subservient to Gursky's formal language. The image's power lies in the artist's compositional arrangement.
Like Gursky's early work, much of which depicts large gatherings of people in heated moments in settings like stock exchanges and raves, Love Parade reveals the mayhem of the human experience by manipulating vantage point. Gursky's artistic manipulations also reveal unexpected elements like color and form, challenging photography's traditional documentary nature and elevating the art form to comment on the human species as a whole.
The son of commercial photographer, Andreas Gursky grew up in postwar West Germany and rose to prominence in the 1980s. He studied with Bernd and Hilla Becher, who trained Gursky to treat his surroundings with extreme objectivity - an attitude reflected throughout the artist's oeuvre. Love Parade showcases Gursky's unique ability to create a powerful abstracted image through the ingenious use of the camera lens.