New York

Andreas Gursky

Matthew Marks Gallery

Looking at the best of Andreas Gursky’s large-format photographs is like turning back just after the moment of death to gaze at the earth as you float away from it: the landscape you inhabited is as drab as ever, but now it’s possessed by a compositional magic, a serenity and geometry, a tension between animate and inanimate that had gone unnoticed.

In his recent show, a work entitled Singapore, 1997, best exemplifies this experience. A gray, manmade harbor was shot from on high, as from an ascending hot-air balloon, so that the earth’s curve is perceptible. With nothing to distinguish the scene qua scene, the image might easily illustrate a National Geographic story on Pacific Rim economies. But then one notices that the small boats at anchor near the polygonal banks of the new harbor, their details flattened out by the remoteness of the perspective, all face the same direction—out to sea.

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