Andreas Gursky - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Monday, June 27, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection

  • Catalogue Essay

    In Bangkok VII, Gursky produces a highly expressionistic ‘painting’ via photoshop manipulation, by adding the illusion of oil spills onto the surface of the fast-flowing urban water of Chao Phraya river in central Bangkok. It is a footprint of the major concerns that surround Gursky’s oeuvre: it inhabits the middle ground between abstraction and figuration, it explores photographic techniques vis-à-vis painterly devices, and it studies the effects of globalisation on the earth and human psyche. From the surface, the river’s extreme pollution is captured to reflect the condition of modern city life. In this work, Gursky turns an everyday mundane place into an index of the human experience: ‘I am working on an encyclopaedia of life,’ explained Gursky. This work is a perfect example of his talent for assimilating the common belief that photography is the most accurate mode to represent reality with the truth-claim of abstract painting; thus, demonstrating the potential application of abstraction beyond the medium of painting.

    The present lot is of the same ilk as these earlier works by Gursky, although part of its power consists in what it doesn’t say. If the environmental issues plaguing Bangkok (and which caused terrible floods not long after the creation of the works) are evoked by the piece, then so is a kind of anti-civilised, pre- and post-historic state. Both the short- and the long-term consequences of human excess are suggested in the cosmic forms in the work’s colours.


Bangkok VII

inkjet print, in artist's frame
307 x 227 cm (120 7/8 x 89 3/8 in.)
Signed 'Andreas Gursky' on a label affixed to the reverse of the backing board. This work is number 3 from an edition of 6.

£150,000 - 200,000 ‡♠

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Head of Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 28 June 2016