Andreas Gursky - Contemporary Art Part I New York Wednesday, November 15, 2006 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

  • Exhibited

    Seoul, Gallery Hyundai, Andreas Gursky Thomas Struth, February 2-25, 2005 (another example exhibited)
    Dresden, Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Die Zehn Gebote: Politik - Moral – Gesellschaft, June 14, 2004-January 2, 2005 (another example exhibited)
    Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle, October 28-December 1, 2002 and Tate Liverpool, December 20, 2002-March 23, 2003, Shopping: A Century of Art and Consumer Culture (another example exhibited)

  • Literature

    S. Hubbard, “Art For Sale: Andreas Gursky @ White Cube”, The Independent, London, March 11, 2003
    S. B. Vogel, “ ‘Shopping: Schirn Kunsthalle’”, Artforum, May 2003

  • Catalogue Essay

    Andreas Gursky’s 99 Cent II Diptychon, 2001 reveals a massively enlarged reproduction of the discount market. Keeping with his signature style, Gursky features a panoramic vista of the bizarre spectacle of an ordinary dime-cent store. The effect on the viewer is a dazzling array of an all too surreal reality. In essence, the artist captures in a daunting manner the seemingly antiseptic public space of late capitalism.

    In the early 1990s, Gursky began his technique of altering his pictures digitally. He continues to make color prints from celluloid negatives, which contribute to the crystalline quality definition and high-gloss sheen for which his photographs are famed. Trained in the 1980s methods that concentrated on formal aspects of photography and the documentary aspects it possesses, Gursky, like his famed professors and mentors Bernd and Hilla Becher, is enchanted with the Contemporary world around us; his tendency, derived from his schooling, is to systematically and rigorously investigate the world around us. He is obsessed with details of our daily life and existence. Without providing editorial content, Gursky highlights aspects of our everyday surroundings and asks the viewer to form their own conclusion.

    Yet despite Gursky’s adherence to revealing aspects of our contemporary world, there is an edited quality to his works, something altered that awakens our perception. The rows in the store appear close, too close for the norm. The entire atmosphere is consumed with row upon row of consumer products. The spaces are removed between the aisles, dislocating our focal point as we are presented with an unusual representation of the all too ordinary. It’s clear what’s for sale, but unclear exactly how things physically exist within the store, a disturbing yet intriguing image of a typical scene.

    In the present lot, 99 Cent II Diptychon, Gursky celebrates the seductive powers of supermarket packaging and most importantly presentation. Not the first to endeavor with this theme, Gursky’s methods can be linked to the pioneering manner of Andy Warhol, whose famed Brillo Box series (fig 1) and Campbell's Soup Cans (fig 2), also celebrate the mass production of material objects and simultaneously the audience’s obsession with his ‘goods’. Warhol’s original artwork seeks to commemorate the importance of mass production and consumption. In Warhol’s words, "All department stores will become museums and all museums will become department stores." (A. Dock, “Shopping: A Century of Art and Consumer Culture”, NY Arts, September / October, 2006).

    Like Warhol, Gursky has succeeded in seducing his viewers with this product of seriality. Gursky provides viewers with a new visual vocabulary in which to comprehend the massive changes that have been brought on through globalization and commercialism. At the core of Gursky’s practice is an interest in commerce, whether the production, trade or sale of goods, and this is best exemplified in 99 Cent II Diptychon. Reducing and expanding the rows of consumer products, Gursky has successfully transformed the everyday into sublime counterpoints which in their visual bountifulness, appear to follow the minimalist grid. It is explained that “Behind Gursky’s taste for the imposing clarity of unbroken parallel forms spanning a slender rectangle, for example, lies a rich inheritance of reductive aesthetics, from Freidrich to Newman to Richter (fig. 4) to Donald Judd.” (P. Galassi, “Gursky’s World” in Andreas Gursky, New York, p. 35)

    Deciphering the products from each other becomes difficult in the maze of colors and bright lights. This method, Gursky seems to say, is the land of plenty. America has myriad choices of toothpastes, potato chips, and candy. It is without doubt that America is one of the most overfed nations in the world. The customers themselves seem to drown in the sea of selections.


99 Cent II Diptychon

Diptych: two chromogenic color prints mounted with Plexiglas in the artist’s wooden frames.
81 x 134 1/4 in. (205.7 x 341 cm) each.
Signed “Andreas Gursky” on artist’s labels adhered to the reverse of each panel. This work is from an edition of six.

$2,500,000 - 3,500,000 

Sold for $2,480,000

Contemporary Art Part I

16 Nov 2006, 7pm
New York