April 15–June 21, 2014
From the moment he started making photographs to the present day, the landscape has captivated Andreas Gursky. This exhibition is the first to focus on a group of important early landscapes from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. Predating Gursky’s extensive use of digital technology, and characterised by what the artist has called an ‘extraterrestrial’ perspective, the pictures are titled simply and directly after the geographical location where they were taken.
In Niagara Falls (1989), a boatload of tourists, draped in black rain gear, appears to be heading directly into a section of the falls where the white crashing water has obliterated any legible detail. If this photograph depicts a sublime landscape, Mettmann, Autobahn (1993) shows instead a calm, bucolic scene intersected by silver-grey bars. At first glance, the bars look like they were inserted into the photograph by the artist as an extreme formal gesture, but they were already at the site, integral to a Plexiglass screen that acted as a noise barrier along the motorway. Gursky noticed this interweaving of classic pastoral and utilitarian technology while driving. In Alba (1989) the landscape is similarly ageless: a river, barely a ripple in its surface and framed by a dark forest, trickles over a stony riverbed as it has for centuries. Fishermen, dwarfed by the artist’s sweeping view of the site, wade into the water.