Lot 14
  • 14

Andreas Gursky

150,000 - 200,000 GBP
169,250 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Andreas Gursky
  • Love Parade
  • signed on a label affixed to the reverse
  • cibachrome print in artist's frame


Monika Sprüth Philomene Magers, Cologne
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner


Exhibition Catalogue, Münich, Haus der Kunst, Andreas Gursky, 2007, pp. 134-35, illustration of another example in colour
Exhibition Catalogue, Basel, Kunstmuseum, Andreas Gursky, 2007-08, pp. 114-115, illustration of another example in colour

Catalogue Note

In both stylistic and thematic terms, the stunning Love Parade exactly summates the iconic documentaries of human behaviour that Andreas Gursky had developed through the 1990s in his epic cycles of Stock Exchanges and Raves. In his own words, these photographs "indicate my interest in the human species as opposed to the individual" (the artist in: Exhibition Catalogue, Hamburg, Deichtorhallen, Andreas Gursky: Photographs 1984-1993, 1994, p. 11). In the expansive vista of Love Parade, individual details are subservient to the overall structural design. In Gursky's image, individuals have become reduced to anonymous beings by the overarching principle of his lens, and are submerged in a mass of atomized cells. As such, Love Parade presents to us not necessarily the documentation of an event, but a beautifully structured organism, a grand tableau that freezes and captures frantic human movement as a kaleidoscope of colour and form.

The Love Parade originated in Berlin in 1989 and its annual incarnation has since witnessed hundreds of thousands of revellers filling the streets and open spaces of the city in celebration of Love. As a festival concept it has subsequently spread to various cities around the world and recruited the participation of millions. In Berlin, the focus of the parade itself is a caravan of sound trucks, representing music labels and nightclubs and loaded with speakers and dancers, which cast the electronic, trance and dance music of their passenger DJs into seas of partying crowds.

With this work the viewpoint immediately posits us as outsiders, distant and separated from the private activity happening below. Viewed from on-high, the God-like perspective turns the hundreds of revellers into miniature insect-like forms. This chaotic mass of people is apparently organized by some invisible principle or hidden logic as the huge mass of colour appears to sway in one large body, creating a magnificent sense of movement. The work offers the eye continual reward from a distance to close up. When set back far from the image we are transfixed by the sheer spectrum of colour across the extensive panorama, scanning the overload of visual data and, almost involuntarily, searching for signs of pattern or logic. As one moves closer to the image, smaller narratives within the constructed whole become more visible.

From the revelling debauchery of Hieronymous Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights to the acutely-observed ribald congregations of Pieter Brueghel the Elder, large-scale depictions of social spectacle have long-punctuated art history. Gursky's Love Parade continues this tradition, acting as a window onto human behaviour today. Following his multi-varied antecedents, Gursky's lens surveys the vast vista of societal activity with sufficient scale and detail to reveal the narratives of dislocated microcosms. Together, the expansive atomic structure of individuals combines in aesthetic symphony: the hustle and bustle becoming a sublime colouristic spectacle reminiscent of a host of further precedent, from the aspirational, meditative paintings of Jackson Pollock and Abstract Expressionism to the minimalist geometry of Gerhard Richter's Farbfeld.

Having been taught by Bernd and Hilla Becher at the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie in the early 1970s, Gursky's art continues their goal of an impersonal objectivity, which was inimical to West Germany's post war photographic development. Gursky's photography also represents a technical revolution, which was in part necessitated by the nature of his subjects. In 1987 he renounced the hand-held 35mm Leica camera, preferring cameras with a five-by-seven inch negative format. His process of identifying potential subjects through the media, focusing on subjects representative of the moment, and the advanced planning required to gain access to otherwise closed areas became underpinning tenets of his creative process.

Love Parade is archetypal of Gursky's photographic eye, which scans the post-Capitalist landscapes that define our daily lives and analyses containers of human activity. His photographs play witness to the grand shopping malls, stock exchanges and large claustrophobic crowds that together control our existence; proposing the world as a series of monumentally-scaled, beautifully-packaged vitrines of life. Perfectly embodying its zeitgeist, Love Parade continues the dialogue between the various subjects of Gursky's oeuvre. His Stock Exchanges, as vast centres of commerce in the major cities of the world, are packed with hundreds of brokers attempting to buy and sell their way out of economic downturn, while his Raves show vast warehouses packed with clubbers attempting to dance their troubles away into the night. Love Parade paints the portrait of another of these arenas that facilitate communal worship to consumption; divulging the full extent of collective celebration as both tribal and individual action. Gursky elevates the everyday by emphasising the overarching structure, thereby imbuing it with epic presence. As the artist states, "You never notice arbitrary details in my work. On a formal level, the countless interrelated micro and macro structures are woven together, determined by an overall organizational principle" (the artist in: Exhibition Catalogue, Edinburgh, The Dean Gallery, Andreas Gursky: Photographs 1994-1998, 1999, p. 5).