On display are some 65 works chosen by Gursky himself, ranging from early pieces dating from the 1980s to photos shot in Japan, including “Tokyo Stock Exchange” (1990) and “Kamiokande” (2007). The former work is a particularly striking depiction of the much-vaunted collective groupthink that takes on monumental proportions in the world of Japanese corporate finance — according to art critic Julian Stallabrass, this photograph captures “the blurring of movement caused by slow shutter speeds…which has the effect of effacing activity, while leaving stasis sharp.”
Human actors in a Gursky photograph lack a self-assertive sense of agency, hovering instead within a social space of interaction that suggests an emergent order constantly being interrupted, redefined, and disrupted again.
Also being showcased at this exhibition is a new series of works entitled “Ocean” (2010), created with the aid of satellite imagery, and “Bangkok” (2011) — a work demonstrating a more conceptual turn, meditating serenely on the surface of a river as if to contemplate the depths beneath.
Born in 1955 in Leipzig, Gursky studied visual communication under Otto Steinert and Michael Schmidt in Essen before moving to Dusseldorf, where he trained under Bernd and Hilla Becher from 1980–87. He first attracted critical attention as a member of the Becher School, along with fellow students Candida Höfer, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth, and Axel Hütte.
The exhibition runs July 3—September 16, 2013 at the National Art Center, Tokyo, before traveling to the National Museum of Art, Osaka from February 1—May 11, 2014.
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