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  • Provenance

    Saatchi Collection, London
    11 Duke Street, London
    Phillips de Pury & Company, New York, ‘Contemporary Art I’, 12 May 2005, lot 53
    Acquired from the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Malmö, Rooseum-Center for Contemporary Art, Andreas Gursky, 25 March–14 May 1995, n.p. (another example exhibited; illustrated)
    Tate Gallery Liverpool, Andreas Gursky: Images, July 1–27 August 1995 (another example exhibited; illustrated on exhibition flyer), Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Winterthur
    Fotomuseum, London, Serpentine Gallery, Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Turin, Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea and Lisbon, Centro Cultural de Belém, Andreas Gursky: Fotografien 1994–1998, May 1998–December 1998, pp. 58, 59 no. 56 (another example exhibited; illustrated)
    Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Andreas Gursky: Photographs from 1984 to the present, August 29 – October 18, 1998, pp. 58-59, no. 56 (another example exhibited, illustrated)
    New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Andreas Gursky, March 4 – May 15, 2001, pp.132–33 (another example; illustrated)
    Donaueschingenm, Fürstenberg Sammlungen, Ahead of the 21st Century: the Pisces Collection, June 2002–October 2004, pp. 92–93, no. 66 (illustrated)

  • Literature

    P. Amsellem and L. Nittve, eds., Andreas Gursky, Malmö, 1995, n.p. (illustrated)
    C. Hagen, Art in Review, “Andreas Gursky” The New York Times, February 13,1995
    U. Grosenick, ed., Andreas Gursky-Fotografien 1994-1998, Wolfsburg, 1998-2000, PP. 10-11 (illustrated)
    M.L. Syring, ed., Andreas Gursky: Photographs from 1984 to the present, Munich, 1998, pp. 58-59, no 56 (illustrated)
    L. Cooke, R. Pfab and M.L. Syring, Andreas Gursky: Fotografien 1984 bis heute, Munich, 1998, pp. 56-57 (illustrated)
    D. Galloway, “The Cool Conceptualist” Artnews, February 2001, vol 100, no. 2, p. 139 (illustrated)
    U. Grosenick, ed., Ahead of the 21th Century: the pisces collection, Ostfildern-Ruit, 2002, pp. 92- 93, no. 66 (illustrated)
    D. Aaronson, ed., Photography transformed\; the Metropolitan Bank & Trust Collection, New York, 2002, pp. 102-103 (illustrated)
    M. Hentschel, ed, Andreas Gursky Arbeten – Works 80-08, Ostfildern, 2008, pp. 126-127 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Vision is an intelligent form of thought.’’ ANDREAS GURSKY

    “Andreas Gursky’s best pictures of the past decade knock your socks off and they’re meant to. They’re big, bold, full of colour and full of surprise. As each delivers its punch, the viewer is already wondering where it came from – and will continue to enjoy the seduction of surprise long after scrutinizing the picture in detail.” (Peter Galassi, Andreas Gursky, New York, 2001, p.9)

    Hong Kong Stock Exchange, from 1994 is a monumental photographic diptych by the internationally renowned artist Andreas Gursky. Striking, thought- provoking and artfully constructed; the artist’s iconic photographs astutely render the nature of contemporary globalization. Gursky portrays the post-modern structures of a civilized world. It is through this process that he questions the properties of our contemporary existence. Inevitably, Gursky’s poetic photographic depiction of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange is preoccupied with capitalist society and the systems of exchange that form it. The work subtly scrutinizes the manifestations of the growing global economy. In Gursky’s work, it is no longer modernity that is the powerful force instilling its presence within society. Instead, this pivotal photograph reveals the nature of a humanity trapped by the perpetually shifting economic structures of the world.

    The present lot is an important work in Gursky’s career. It is impossible to absorb Gursky’s epic photographs in a single glance and time needs to be spent examining all of the exquisite details that Gursky captures. The fragments, which make up an overwhelming whole, reveal a fundamental tension between the minute and the monumental, the microcosmic and macrocosm. This dichotomy induces a continuous shift in focus and these powerful compositional elements are a forceful visual metaphor. Gursky both comments on the individual and on our anonymity in the modern world. The distance that Gursky creates between viewer and subject is deeply unsettling. Essentially, the observer and the observed are one and when appraising Gursky’s work, we are inevitably scrutinizing an element of ourselves. Hong Kong Stock Exchange is densely packed with finite details; individual facial expressions, actions, communications. Yet, when observed from Gursky’s transcendent vantage point, these individual facets fuse. The people are powerfully frozen in a moment of becoming, intertwined into an undeniably intriguing whole.

    Gursky does not simply document but also construct his subjects. Consequently, it is consciously that the artist directs our attention. Gursky is not simply a recorder of reality. His digital techniques, such as colour enhancements, repetitions and reductions, act as his palette while the original image, is his canvas. Hong Kong Stock Exchange is created as if Gursky was as much a painter as a photographer. Perhaps, Gursky’s altered photography is “a post-modern tool for presenting the postmodern
    world” (Alix Ohnlin, ‘Gursky and the Contemporary Sublime’, Art Journal, vol. 61, no. 4, 2002). Peter Galassi astutely summarizes this process: “documentary realism versus digital manipulation, modernist idealism versus postmodern skepticism, high art versus commerce, conceptual rigor versus spontaneous observation, photography versus painting: these and other antagonisms have engendered some fierce battles, but for Gursky they are all givens – not opponents but companions” (Galassi, 2001, p. 41).

    Fascinatingly, the implicit suggestions present within Hong Kong Stock Exchange are profoundly current. Arguably, the implications of this work suggest the flaws of capitalism. Recently financial institutions have been the centre of searching criticism. In this work, Gursky places them, and the people within them, under a microscope. The monetary transactions undertaken within the stock exchange, the millions in flux are frozen. The world is stopped for a second and we are allowed to take a step back
    and observe. In this manner, Gursky uncovers the fragility of the minute figures who occupy the restrictive space of the trading floor. Today, more than ever, Gursky’s subjects seem to be paused on the brink of the disaster. In this sense, this photo is as current now as it was when it was taken – Gursky made this photograph in the same year that the Tokyo Stock Exchange began its descent and the bubble of the Japanese economy burst.

26

Hong Kong Stock Exchange (diptych)

1994
two colour coupler prints
each: 180 × 250 cm (70 7/8 × 98 3/8 in)
Each signed, titled, numbered and dated ‘Hong Kong Stock Exchange ’94
A.Gursky A.P.’ on the reverse. This work is an artist’s proof from the edition of six.

Estimate
£400,000 - 600,000 ‡ ♠

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

10 October 2012
London