As the world’s most collectable living photographer, Andreas Gursky has photographed a wide array of scenes: from the worker bees at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, seen from high above, to a remarkable neutrino observatory in Japan (Kamiokande, 2007). Than the photographer has captured North Korea’s incredible Arirang Festival where 70,000 choreographed performers entertain 50,000 rapturous spectators.
Shooting on a 5in x 7in large-format camera, before scanning his negatives to work on digitally in his Herzog & De Meuron-designed Dusseldorf studio, Gursky admits to finding the rapidly changing gymnastic displays hard to capture smoothly. Although he originally had permission to shoot for one evening, he attended seven shows in September 2005, and made a second visit a month later to get more of the shots he needed.
Art theorists love Gursky’s work because he gives them so much to get their teeth into in debates about the representation of reality. In his shots of a discount store, 99 Cent II Diptychon (2001), which was sold for $3.3 million (a record for any photograph sold at auction), he photographed the shelves of goods separately, and then put them back together with digital manipulation in post-production. ‘The view I created in 99 Cent does exist in reality, but you’d have to destroy the wall of the store to photograph it,’ he says.