Photography is not often something that appeals to me but this was a rare exception. I was going to attend with two friends of mine but one of them horrifically broke her leg, so I corralled in someone else to attend the Haywood Gallery with me.
Gursky uses photography in much the same way others use paint to construct an image. His earlier images aren’t that interesting. They seem to me just monumental quite boring holiday snaps, the kind that has no focus and subject (like the above). There is an interesting use of man made lines, reflected in the landscape for example in Ratingen Swimming Pool.
The really interesting stuff happens when he develops this technique of compiling very large, very detailed pictures of repeating patterns often caused by human activity. The first of these that really struck me was Salerno (above), depicting the Italian port with ranks and ranks of different coloured vans. These form a great contrast with the looming mountains in the background. If you are interested in photography then there is a great deal of skill gone into rendering something so vast in such high resolution.
These and the photographs like them form the stars of the show in my view. There is a vast picture of an Amazon warehouse (above) baffling in its apparent like of order, ranks upon ranks of random ephamera and the soul destroying company slogans of “Work hard, have fun, make a difference” none of which of course can happen in such a soulless environment. This if of course one of arts function in that not is only the image intrinsically interesting but it teaches you something. There are a number of photographs of mass displays from North Korea, which have a similar impact.
Crowds of people are another interesting subject matter and particularly stock exchanges (such as the above) interested Gursky with the bustle of economic activity, some people looking tense, others happy.
This contrasts nicely with May Day, a large composite photograph, with all of the vast crowd in focus, all having fun and generally cavorting (above).
For me though the most appealing images are those with the repetitive geometric elements, like Salerno but reaching its height in the poster image for the show, the vast solar panel field of Less Mees (first picture in this blog). It’s a very hypnotic image.
There are of course many others, some effective, some not. There is a good one of an apartment building that will appeal to the voyeur in you.
It is a quite a large show and there is much much more. If you are interested photography then go. It is on until 22nd April
William John Mackenzie
I am an artist with a specialism in landscapes and still life. My contact details are here.