Archive for November, 2008

29
Nov
08

Exhibition: ‘Delacroix and Photography’ at Musée national Eugène Delacroix, Paris

Exhibition dates: 28th November 2008 – 2nd March 2009

 

Many thankx to the Musée national Eugène Delacroix for allowing me to publish the artwork in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Eugène Delacroix. 'Etude de jambes d'homme assis et étude d'une tête' nd

 

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)
Etude de jambes d’homme assis et étude d’une tête
Nd
Lead pencil
20.3 x 15.2 cm
Museum of Fine Arts and Archeology of Besançon
© Museum of Fine Arts and Archeology of Besançon

 

Eugene Durieu. 'Nu masculin assis de face, les jambes écartées' 1854

 

Eugène Durieu (1800-1874)
Nu masculin assis de face, les jambes écartées
1854
Plate XV of the Durieu Album
Salted paper from negative paper
17.8 x 12.8 cm
BnF, Department of Prints and photography
© BnF

 

 

Jean Louis Marie Eugène Durieu (1800-1874) was an early French amateur nude photographer, primarily known for his early nude photographs of men and women. A number of his male and female models were also painted by Eugène Delacroix, with whom he was friends.

Durieu was born in Nîmes, and became known for making studies of nudes for Delacroix. During his career Durieu was a lawyer. His last job was inspector for education and culture. In 1849 he went into early retirement and devoted himself to the newly developing technology of photography. In 1853, Durieu worked with Delacroix on a series of photographs of different male and female nude models.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

In the early 1850s, Durieu, like many of his photographic peers, gravitated from the daguerreotype to the calotype. None of the works from his daguerreotypical oeuvre can be attributed to him with any certainty. Apart from the Delacroix album held at the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris, another work on paper does exist, however, a more personal album preserved at the George Eastman House in Rochester, which was once part of the Gabriel Cromer collection. Its repertoire is more varied and includes female nudes in fairly elaborate settings, as well as portraits and reproductions of paintings and engravings. …

In 1851, along with Delacroix, Durieu became one of the founder members of the Société Heliographique, the first French institution to be created specifically for photographers. Above all, its brief was to encourage the development of photography on paper and in particular the calotype as opposed to the daguerreotype.

It was at precisely this time in the early 1850s that Delacroix’s interest in photography was at its height, coinciding with that of Durieu. In February 1850, he wrote in his journal: “ask Boissard for some daguerreotypes on paper,” and later, in September 1850: “Laurens tells me that Ziegler is producing a sizeable number of daguerreotypes, including portrayals of nude men. I intend to go and see him to ask if he can lend me a few.” In May 1853, he showed Pierret and his cousin Léon Riesener the prints given to him by Durieu. In November 1853, he discussed the topic of photography with Riesener, who in the 1840s had not only been a painter but an ‘author’ of daguerreotypes. Delacroix maintained that the term author was a misnomer for what he regarded as a mechanical recording process, a machine-led art: “He referred to the solemn account the good Durieu and his friend, who assists him in these operations, give of their time and trouble, whilst taking much of the credit for the success of the aforementioned operations, or more precisely their results.” He made fun of Riesener, who had asked them with great trepidation if he could use their pictures as models for his paintings without being accused of plagiarism. Finally, on two successive Sundays, 18 and 25 June 1854, he visited Durieu on the seventh floor of his home at 40 rue de Bourgogne to ask him to make a series of photographs of models under his guidance…

Extract from Sylvie Aubenas. “Eugène Durieu, senior civil servant, photographer and forger,” No 32 Printemps 2015 (translation Caroline Bouché) on the Etudes photographiques website [Online] Cited 04/10/2018

 

Eugène Durieu (1800-1874) 'Nude couple: female nude standing in the background, male nude sitting in profile on a leopard skin' 1854

 

Eugène Durieu (1800-1874)
Nude couple: female nude standing in the background, male nude sitting in profile on a leopard skin
1854
Plate 3 of an album containing 32 studies of models
Salted paper print
16.2 x 11.5 cm
BnF coll., Paris
© BnF

 

Eugène Durieu (1800-1874) 'Model of male nude sitting in profile on a leopard skin' 1854

 

Eugène Durieu (1800-1874)
Model of male nude sitting in profile on a leopard skin
1854
Plate 11 of an album containing 32 studies of models
Salted paper print
17 x 13.5 cm
BnF coll., Paris
© BnF

 

 

“I look with passion and without fatigue at these photographs of naked men, this admirable poem, this human body on which I learn to read and whose sight tells me more than the inventions of scribblers.”

.
Delacroix, ‘Journal’, October 5, 1855

 

 

Delacroix was confronted, like his entire generation, with the emergence of photography. An intriguing tool fascinating for the painter, this medium occupies a place apart in all of his work. He is at the source of a deep reflection on artistic truth in the face of photographic realism.

Far from seeing photography as a potential rival to painting, Delacroix took a keen interest in the development of this new medium, following its technical progress with sufficient curiosity to become a founding member of the Heliographic Society in 1851. He amassed a considerable photographic collection-of frescoes by Raphael, paintings by Rubens, and cathedral sculptures. Moreover, although he did not use a camera himself, a series of male and female nude models were photographed at his request by Eugène Durieu, in 1854. We know from his diary and letters that he sometimes used these photographs to practice drawing when no live models were available. These shots, which he sometimes carries with him, are a valuable tool for practicing drawing during his stays in the province. They meet very personal criteria; Delacroix wanted to use images voluntarily a little blurry and mostly stripped of all the quaint accessories conveyed by commercial photographs to the attention of artists.

However, despite a deep fascination for photography, Delacroix keeps a critical eye on this new medium. He adopts an attitude sometimes skeptical about his proper use and mastery of the technique, refusing to award benefits beyond its instrumental value. His reluctance is particularly keen with regard to one’s own photographed image: he even goes so far as to demand the destruction of some negatives, fortunately in vain.

Almost all the photographs and the drawings done from them (together with a number of paintings) have been assembled for the first time at the Musée Delacroix, with the generous support of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and other collections. The exhibition also features a surprising series of photographic portraits of Delacroix himself, ranging from the precious intimate daguerreotypes of the 1840s to the more posed and strikingly dignified pictures taken by Carjat or Nadar toward the end of his life-many of which images the great man himself would rather have had destroyed.

Press release from the Musée National Eugène Delacroix

 

The Durieu Album

The album of thirty-two photographs preserved in the department Prints and Photography of the National Library de France and commonly known as “Durieu Album”, by the name of the author of the photographs contains mainly photographs of two nude models, a man and a woman, taken by Eugene Durieu in the presence and on the indications of Delacroix during two sessions of successive poses, on Sunday 18 and 25 June 1854. The album was probably in lot 1532 of the sale after the painter’s death, bought by the critic Philippe Burty, who said on the front page: “All this sequence of photographs was bought by me at the posthumous sale of Eugène Delacroix’s workshop. He used it often and his cartons contained a considerable number of pencil studies from these photographs some of which were made expressly for him by one of his friends, and the models posed by him.” This album went on to the bibliographer and historian of the art Maurice Tourneux, who offered it in 1899 to the Cabinet des Prints.

The examination of the album, whose pages are all presented here in the order of the pages, shows that divides into four distinct sequences. Plate I represents a seated male nude model. His black beard and its abundant hair absolutely distinguishes him from the model with the better drawn musculature having posed in the following photographs. This test is undoubtedly part of a different set provided by Durieu to Delacroix.

The twenty-six photographs that follow in the album are, like the first, calotypes, that is to say prints from negative on paper. The calotype is characterised by a slight blur that Delacroix’s eyes found useful and tolerable photography, the grain of the negative paper producing, in the prints, less precise contours than in the daguerreotype or prints based on collodion glass. These twenty-six photographs of June 1854 form a very homogeneous series, with two models. The man that Delacroix calls “the Bohemian” appears by the development of his musculature and his ease to pose, as a professional model. He is present alone on seventeen views, and on the other nine in the company of a female model, probably an Italian, also a professional model, who posed again in 1855 for two other photographers.

After this series, the album contains two studies (plates XXVIII and XXIX) of the same young woman, of which one served as the model for Odalisque of 1857 (private collection). The model is Miss Hamély, a small actress who appeared in tableaux vivants and pantomimes at the Porte-Saint-Martin theater (1853) but who also posed for photographers. The freedom that Delacroix takes in the painting in relation to the photography confirms that, he only uses it as a support for the imagination, unlike a painter like Gérôme for whom the cliche really replaces the model. So photography is amalgamated, among other ingredients, in a personal universe, not to mention the colours of the painting.

The album ends with three prints, based on a glass negative, of the same model draped to the waist, sitting in front of a plain canvas background. The sharpness, due to the negative on glass, the rigorous composition and images, their “professional” aspect make them totally different from the previous ones, to such that we can hesitate to attribute them to Durieu. While the calotypes posed by Delacroix are very rare, these last three images are seen in more than one collection; they have been broadcast to a wider audience.

Text from the Delacroix et la photographie exhibition pdf (translated from the French by Google translate)

 

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) 'Two studies of naked men one standing, the other sitting' Nd

 

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)
Two studies of naked men one standing, the other sitting
Nd
Graphite
Musée Eugène-Delacroix
© RMN / Michèle Bellot

 

Eugène Durieu (1800-1874) 'Nu féminin assis sur un divan, la tête soutenue par un bras' 1854

 

Eugène Durieu (1800-1874)
Nu féminin assis sur un divan, la 
tête soutenue par un bras
1854
Plate XXIX of the Durieu Album
Salted paper varnished from negative paper
14 x 9.5 cm
BnF, Department of Prints and Photography
© BnF

 

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) 'Odalisque' 1857

 

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)
Odalisque
1857
Oil on wood
39.5 x 31 cm
Private Collection

 

Eugène Durieu (1800-1874) 'Model Study' 1854

 

Eugène Durieu (1800-1874)
Model Study
1854
Calotype
BnF, Department of Prints and photography, Paris
© BnF

 

Louis Camille d'Olivier (1827-1870) 'Female nude' 1855

 

Louis Camille d’Olivier (1827-1870)
Female nude
1855
Salted paper print
21 x 16 cm
BnF, Department of Prints and Photography
© BnF

 

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) 'Study of naked woman in profile on the left' Nd

 

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)
Study of naked woman in profile on the left
Nd
Lead pencil
13.6 x 20.9 cm
Louvre Museum, Department of the Arts graphics
© RMN Photo / Thierry Le Mage

 

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) 'Three studies of men' Nd

 

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)
Three studies of men
Nd
Lead pencil
19.2 x 25.3 cm
Museum of Fine Arts and Archeology from Besançon
© Museum of Fine Arts and Archeology from Besançon

 

Eugène Durieu (1800-1874) 'Naked man standing, back, holding a vertical stick' Nd

 

Eugène Durieu (1800-1874)
Naked man standing, back, holding a vertical stick
Nd
Albumine paper
9.9 x 5.8 cm
Gérard Lévy Collection
© 2008 Louvre Museum / Pierre Ballif

 

Eugène Durieu (1800-1874) 'Naked man sitting on a chair' Nd

 

Eugène Durieu (1800-1874)
Naked man sitting on a chair
Nd
Albumen paper
9.7 x 5.8 cm
Gérard Lévy Collection
© 2008 Louvre Museum / Pierre Ballif

 

Léon Riesener (1808-1878) 'Portrait of Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)' 1842

 

Léon Riesener (1808-1878)
Portrait of Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)
1842
Daguerreotype
© Musée d’Orsay, Dist RMN / Patrice Schmidt

 

 

Louis Antoine Léon Riesener (21 January 1808 in Paris – 25 May 1878 in Paris) was a French Romantic painter.

Enchanted by the play of light and reflections which transformed the appearance of matter, Riesener began a new aesthetic that made him one of the precursors of impressionism. A passionate colourist, he researched all the nuances of colour and studied the techniques of ancient Greece and the Renaissance, including Titian, Veronese and Corregio. Impressed by his research into colour, he turned towards Rubens, which for him was the Shakespeare of painting. Very early in his career Riesener studied tonal divisions, well before the physician Chevreul discovered their scientific basis. His tactile taste led him to look for the most perfect expression of matter and particularly of skin. He put poetry into his painting by the play of shadow and he passionately admired nature, life and all the beauties they produced.

He researched the subject of life in the countryside and, liking to paint reality, said he wanted to express “the heat of the day, the melancholy of the evening, meadows, flowers as they are in nature”. His study of the elements caused him to paint a series of skies which varied according to the light and time of day – the subjects were ahead of their time and Riesener had to fight hard against the Salon juries and the Institut. Using pure colours, he excluded the blacks and whites which had been used for shadows and light before him. His material science of colour was the opposition which gave birth to contrasts from juxtaposed pigments. He did not portray faces by contours, but by shadows and modelling.

 

Relations with Delacroix

After his father’s return from Russia in 1823 Léon got to know Eugène Delacroix better. Ten years older than Riesener, Delacroix was his first-cousin – they shared a grandmother, Marguerite-Françoise Vandercruse, whose daughter by her first marriage was Delacroix’s mother and whose second husband Jean-Henri Riesener was Riesener’s grandfather. Delacroix quickly recognised Riesener’s talent and originality and he supported his early career by recommending him to civil servants he knew. On trips to the countryside they met at Valmont, near Fécamp, the home of their cousin Bataille, owner of the abbaye from 1822 onwards. Riesener devotedly attended Pierret’s salon (Pierret was a school friend of Delacroix), where he met Mérimée, Viel-Castel, Sauvageot, Feuillet de Conches, Viollet-le-Duc, Lasus and Guillemardet. Later, Riesener became friends with Fantin-Latour, Ernest Chausson and the Morisots (the Morisot family was very friendly with the Riesener family, with Rosalie Riesener’s friend Berthe Morisot researching Léon’s opinions, listening to his advice and copying out about 135 pages of his writings) – his friends were artists and he preferred a quiet life rather than the high life favoured by Delacroix.

From childhood, Riesener and Delacroix were friends and confidants. So different in life and character and so independent, they were preoccupied by the same artistic problems and enjoyed exchanging ideas, both having been formed by the 18th century and its neo-classical culture. They discussed their study of the classical world and they were both colourist painters searching for new techniques in tonal division. The difference in their temperaments expressed itself in their ways of looking at nature – Delacroix thought of drama, Riesener thought of sensuality. Delacroix bought Riesener’s painting Angélique as an exemplar for all painters and put it in his studio. On his death in 1863, Delacroix left Riesener his country house at Champrosay.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Nadar (French, 1820-1910) 'Eugène Delacroix seated three-quarter facing, his hand in the waistcoat' 1858

 

Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) (French, 1820-1910)
Eugène Delacroix seated three-quarter facing, his hand in the waistcoat
1858
Salted paper
24.5 x 18 cm
BnF, Department of Prints and Photography
© BnF

 

 

Musée National Eugène Delacroix
6 rue de Furstenberg
75 006 Paris
Phone: +33 (0)1 44 41 86 50

Opening hours:
The museum is open daily except Tuesday, 9.30 am – 5 pm (tickets sold until 4:30 pm)

Musée national Eugène Delacroix website

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28
Nov
08

Exhibition: ‘cowboys, cocks and natives’ by Patrick Christie at Green-Wood gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 27th November – 7th December 2008

 

Patrick Christie. 'Black COCKatoo' 2008

 

Patrick Christie
Black COCKatoo

2008
53 x 44 cm
ink on paper with hand embossing

 

 

This is the first exhibition by artist Patrick Christie exhibiting at Green-Wood gallery in South Melbourne. The ink illustrations are a mixed bag featuring native botanical specimens, beetles of various varieties and colourful birds – a red COCK, a blue peaCOCK and a black COCKatoo (the ‘cocks’ of the title). While the beetle images and the cowboy illustrations feel flat and uninspired it is the larger flower arrangements and the beautifully detailed birds that hold the attention.

With an abundance in the rendering of their subject matter both produce an uplifting cornucopia – vase, flowers, fruit and material overflowing; feathers of the Black COCKatoo repeating and blending like an Escher drawing into the gum leaves behind. The hand marks the page again and again forming exquisite line. Dutch still life of the 17th century come to mind with the flower arrangements and whilst I like the embossed word COCK under the bird images I am not sure it is really necessary. The drawings are strong enough to stand on their own.

There is real talent here. Yes the exhibition needed more conceptual rigour as the whole did not match the sum of the parts. Yes the framing needs attention especially in the bird series, where simpler frames with more space around the images would have let the work breathe but these things can be addressed. For an artist what needs to be there from the start is passion, a good eye and the talent to develop a personal language that is vibrant, interesting and unique – that can be nurtured and developed over many years. This exhibition sets Patrick Christie squarely on this path.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Patrick Christie. '5 Wasps' 2008

 

Patrick Christie
5 Wasps
2008
67 x 50 cm
ink on paper

 

 

Green-Wood Gallery
1 Hotham Street
South Melbourne

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27
Nov
08

Conference: ‘What is Real? Photography and the Politics of Truth’ at The International Center of Photography

November 2008

 

Afghanistan (Abdul Aziz holding a photograph of his brother, Mula Abdul Hakim) 1997

 

Fazal Sheikh
The Victor Weeps: Afghanistan (Abdul Aziz holding a photograph of his brother, Mula Abdul Hakim)
1997

 

 

Conference

What is Real? Photography and the Politics of Truth

This conference brings together renowned photographers, artists, writers, curators, and scholars in a series of panels and conversations:

– Redefining Documentary: The State of Documentary Photography Today
– Art versus Document: An (Un)comfortable Union?
– Public/Private: Community in the Digital Age
– Who Needs Truth Anyway? The Uses and Ethics of Documentary

Participants include Ariella Azoulay, Geoffrey Batchen, Nayland Blake, Okwui Enwezor, Thomas Keenan, Thomas Y. Levin, Maria Lind, Susan Meiselas, Walid Raad, Martha Rosler, Brian Wallis, and others.

 

 

The International Center of Photography
Presents A Two-Day Symposium
to Examine The Changing Nature of Documentary Practice.

Friday December 12th 2008 6-10 pm
Saturday December 13th 2008 9-5 pm

The Times Center
242 West 41st Street
New York City

The International Center of Photography website

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27
Nov
08

Europeana: connecting cultural heritage – digital paintings, books, films and archives

November 2008

 

europeana_launch

 

 

Europeana – the European digital library, museum and archive – is a project that began in July 2007. The website gives users direct access to some 2 million digital objects, including film material, photos, paintings, sounds, maps, manuscripts, books, newspapers and archival papers.

The digital content will be selected from that which is already digitised and available in Europe’s museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual collections. The website aims to have representative content from all four of these cultural heritage domains, and also to have a broad range of content from across Europe. The interface will be multilingual. Initially, this may mean that it is available in French, English and German, but the intention is to develop the number of languages available following the launch.”

 

 

Europeana collections website

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26
Nov
08

Book: William Clift. ‘Certain Places’ 1987

November 2008

 

William Clift. 'Somebody’s House, Baltimore, Maryland, 1964'

 

William Clift
Somebody’s House, Baltimore, Maryland, 1964

from the book

Certain Places
Photographs and Introduction by William Clift.
William Clift Editions, Santa Fe, 1987. 44 pp., twenty-two tritone illustrations.

 

One of the most ravishing photographic books ever produced. Sensitive photography, luminous images, wonderful reproductions on quality stock. Nothing more need be said. My favourite of so many great images is above.

Signed copies unavailable on photoeye but click on the book tease to see more images from the book

 

 

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26
Nov
08

Exhibition: ‘Rod Arad: No Discipline’ at the Centre Pompidou, Paris

Exhibition dates: 20th November 2008 – 16th March 2009

 

 

Ron Arad
Acrylic Oh Void 2
armchair 2004
66 x 115 x 58 cm

 

 

One of my favourite designers!

 

The Centre Pompidou is to devote an exhibition to the work of British architect and designer Ron Arad, his first major one-person show in France. From its beginnings, the Centre has played a key role in presenting design and designers to the wider public, with exhibitions such as Design Français 1960-1990 (1988), Manifeste: 30 ans de création en perspective, 1960-1990 (1992) and D. Day, le design aujourd’hui (2005), as well as monographic exhibitions devoted to such figures as Carlo Mollino (1989), Ettore Sottsass (1994), Gaetano Pesce (1996), Philippe Starck (2003), Charlotte Perriand (2005), and now Ron Arad.

Born in Tel Aviv and trained at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, Arad moved to London in 1973 to study at the Architectural Association. Having settled in the British capital, he has since produced a diverse array of objects, sinusoidal, elliptical or ovoid in form, from one-offs to limited editions to mass-produced pieces. Mention of Ron Arad’s name immediately brings to mind such pieces as the Bookworm bookshelf (1993) and the Tom Vac chair (1997) but, his ground breaking work, has taken him beyond conventional categorization: a creator who recognizes no a priori boundaries, who in his practice moves freely between architecture, design and the visual arts.

In 1987, he was invited by the Centre Pompidou to participate in the exhibition Nouvelles tendances: Les avant-gardes de la fin du XXème siècle, and he has several pieces in the design collection of the Musée national d’art moderne/Centre de création industrielle. This retrospective will present emblematic examples of Arad’s work as a designer, from prototypes to mass-produced objects, as well as a number of architectural projects, together with audio-visual documentation.

Ron Arad’s design for the exhibition in the Galerie Sud draws the visitor into a strikingly distinctive world. The first space offers an identical reproduction of his foyer and staircase for the Tel Aviv Opera House (1994), onto whose elliptical form is projected a film on the Holon Design Museum currently under construction, while plasma screens on the wall present some two dozen of his architectural projects. Beyond this reconstruction, a luminous divide revealing the mysterious silhouettes of objects beyond delimits an intermediate space in which are displayed one-off pieces, prototypes and limited editions. This long ribbon also encloses another space, visible from the street, where visitors and passers-by will find a scaffolding composed of a multitude tubes of varying diameters housing examples of mass-produced pieces, while others contain small screens showing videos. On the floor are more pieces, some of them mobile, equally visible from the street.

The work exhibited illustrates as well as Arad’s long-standing interest in technology, the way in which innovative research, materials engineering and the use of high-precision machinery are combined in unique experiments: sculptural chairs in carbon fibre or silicone, vases produced by stereolithography, lamps that receive and display text messages. And in his work for manufacturers, these technical and formal innovations find expression in the design of everyday objects. Arad’s architecture is equally idiosyncratic, identifiable by its deployment of a formal vocabulary that suggests the application of design to space, as in his Y’s Store for designer Yohji Yamamoto in Tokyo, the Duomo hotel in Italy, and the Holon Design Museum in Israel.

After the Centre Pompidou, the Ron Arad exhibition will be shown at MoMA, New York, from July 28 to October 19 2009, and then at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, in the Spring of 2010.

Press release from The Centre Pompidou website

 

 

Centre Pompidou
Place Georges-Pompidou
75004 Paris

Opening hours:
The Centre Pompidou is open every day except Tuesdays and May 1st – 11am to 9pm

Centre Pompidou website

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25
Nov
08

Opening: ‘Andreas Gursky’ at the National Gallery of Victoria International, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 21st November 2008 – 22nd February 2009

Opening: Thursday 21st November 2008

 

Andreas Gursky banner at NGV International exhibition, Melbourne

 

Andreas Gursky banner at NGV International exhibition, Melbourne

 

 

A large but plain crowd assembled for the opening of the first exhibition by world renowned German photographer Andreas Gursky at the National Gallery of Victoria in St Kilda Road, Melbourne. After some lively conversation with friends and following the opening speeches we wandered into a large clean gallery space with minimal design elements. The use of space within the gallery allowed the work to speak for itself. It is a minimal hang and the exhibition works all the better for this.

As for the work itself 21 large photographs are presented ranging from landscapes to buildings, race tracks to formula 1 pits, Madonna concerts to the Tour de France. Most work successfully in building a hyperreal vision of the world. We are not sure what is ‘real’ or hyperreal, what is a straight photograph or what has been digitally manipulated and woven together. The colour and sharpness of the images is often intensified: in reproductions of the famous photograph of the 99c supermarket in America the colours seem flat but ‘in the flesh’ the colours are almost fluoro in their saturation and brightness.

Having said that the photographs are nearly always unemotional – as though seen from above in the third person, they observe with detachment. The intrigue for the viewer is in the detail, in working out what is going on, but these are not passionate photographs on the surface. It is beneath the surface that the photographs have their psychological effect: the best of the images work on the subconscious of the viewer. Like a fantastical dance the three very wide images of the Formula 1 pits feature pit crews practicing tyre changes, frozen in a choreographed ballet. People in the galleries above stare down; pit lane girls seem to have been inserted digitally into the images, standing at side or behind the pit crews in a seemingly surreal comment on these worlds. These are theatrical tableaux vivant, splashed with teams colours. Fantastic photographs.

In some of the images, such as the Madonna concert or the photograph of the Bahrain Formula 1 racetrack, space seems to have folded in on itself and the viewer is unsure of the structure of the image and of their vantage point in looking at them. Space also collapses in the photograph of the pyramid of Cheops (2006, below), where the depth of field from foreground to background of the image is negligible. Less successful are images of a Jackson Pollock painting and a green grass bank with running river (Rhein II 1996, below), intensified beyond belief so that the river seems almost to be made of liquid silver.

A wonderful exhibition in many aspects, well worth a visit to see one the worlds best photographers at work. The photographs tell detached but psychologically emotional stories about what human beings are doing to the world in which they live. These images are a commentary on the state of this relationship – images of repetition, pattern, construction, use, abuse and fantasy woven into hyperreal visions of an unnatural world.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the National Gallery of Victoria for inviting me to the opening and for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Dr Isobel Crombie and Fredrick White

 

Dr Isobel Crombie, Senior Curator of Photography at the National Gallery of Victoria with sculptor Fredrick White at the opening of the Andreas Gursky exhibition at NGV International, Melbourne.

 

Andreas Gursky (German, b. 1955) 'Bahrain I' 2007

 

Andreas Gursky (German, b. 1955)
Bahrain I
2007
C Print
120 1/2 x 87 1/4 inches
© Andreas Gursky

 

Andreas Gursky (German, b. 1955) 'Tour de France' 2007

 

Andreas Gursky (German, b. 1955)
Tour de France
2007
C Print
© Andreas Gursky

 

Andreas Gursky (German, b. 1955) 'Cheops' 2006

 

Andreas Gursky (German, b. 1955)
Cheops
2006
C Print
307 x 217.1 cm
© Andreas Gursky

 

Andreas Gursky (German, b. 1955) 'Madonna I' 2001

 

Andreas Gursky (German, b. 1955)
Madonna I
2001
C Print
282.26 x 207.01 x 6.35 cm
© Andreas Gursky

 

Andreas Gursky. 'Pyongyang I' 2007

 

Andreas Gursky (German, b. 1955)
Pyongyang I
2007
C Print
307.0 x 215.5 x 6.2 cm
© Andreas Gursky

 

 

For the first time in Australia, an exhibition by German contemporary photographer Andreas Gursky opened at the National Gallery of Victoria. From the Haus der Kunst in Munich, Andreas Gursky presents 21 major works for which the artist is internationally acclaimed. The photographs range from 1989 to 2007 and include seminal works such as Tokyo Stock Exchange and the diptych 99 cent store. Andreas Gursky is recognised as one of the world’s leading contemporary artists. On view through 22 February, 2009.

Well known for his large-scale (generally measuring an astounding four to five metres) and extraordinarily detailed photographs of contemporary life, Gursky continues the lineage of ‘new objectivity’ in German photography which was brought to contemporary attention by Bernd and Hilla Becher.

In the 1990s, Gursky became inspired by the various manifestations of global capitalism. His interest was piqued looking at a newspaper photograph of the crowded floor of the Tokyo Stock Exchange and he began to photograph its flurry of suited traders, somehow moving according to some inbuilt order.

Dr Gerard Vaughan, Director, NGV said the Andreas Gursky exhibition represented a significant coup for Melbourne: “The National Gallery of Victoria is the only Australian venue for this extraordinary show – the first major exhibition of Gursky’s work ever to be seen in this country. Generously organised by the Haus der Kunst Museum in Munich we are extremely fortunate to have had the works in this show selected for us by Andreas Gursky himself.”

Andreas Gursky was born in 1955 and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany. In the early 1980s, he studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Germany’s State Art Academy. Whilst there he was heavily influenced by his teachers Bernd and Hilla Becher, who were well known for their methodical black and white photographs of industrial machinery.

In 1984 Gursky began to move away from the Becher style, choosing instead to work in colour. Since then he has travelled across the world to cities such as Tokyo, Cairo, Hong Kong, Stockholm, Singapore and Los Angeles photographing factories, hotels and office buildings – places he considered to be symbols of contemporary culture. His world-view photographs during this period are considered amongst the most original achievements in contemporary photography.

Gursky has been the subject of numerous international exhibitions including the Internationale Foto-Triennale in Esslingen, Germany in 1989 and 1995, the Venice Biennale in 1990, and the Biennale of Sydney in 1996 and 2000. In 2001, Gursky was the subject of an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Press release from the National Gallery of Victoria website

 

Andreas Gursky (German, b. 1955) 'F1 Boxenstopp 1' 2007

 

Andreas Gursky (German, b. 1955)
F1 Boxenstopp 1
2007
C Print
© Andreas Gursky

 

Andreas Gursky (German, b. 1955) 'Tokyo Stock Exchange' 1990

 

Andreas Gursky (German, b. 1955)
Tokyo Stock Exchange
1990
C Print
205.0 x 260.0 x 6.2 cm
© Andreas Gursky

 

Andreas Gursky (German, b. 1955) 'diptych 99 cent store II' 2001

 

Andreas Gursky (German, b. 1955)
diptych 99 cent store II
2001
C Print
© Andreas Gursky

 

Andreas Gursky (German, b. 1955) 'Rhein II' 1996

 

Andreas Gursky (German, b. 1955)
Rhein II
1996
C print
© Andreas Gursky

 

 

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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