- Andreas Gursky
- Chicago Mercantile Exchange
- signed, titled, numbered 5/6 and dated '97 on the reverse
- C-print in artist's frame
- image: 180.3 by 243.8cm.; 71 by 96in.
- overall: 186.1 by 257.8cm.; 73 1/4 by 101 1/2 in.
Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis Collection
Sale: Phillips de Pury & Company, New York, Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis Collection, 7 November 2005, Lot 31
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner
Exhibition Catalogue, Milwakee, Art Museum; Seattle, Henry Art Gallery; Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum; Columbus, Museum of Art, Andreas Gursky, 1998-99, cover and no. 7, illustration of another example in colour
Exhibition Catalogue, Krefeld, Krefeld Kunstmuseum, Haus Lange und Haus Esters; Stockholm, Moderna Museet; Vancouver, Vancouver Art Gallery, Andreas Gursky. Werke - Works 80-08, 2009, p. 155, illustration of another example in colour
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NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
The trading floors of the world’s financial markets are icons of capitalism and a model site of modernity. When explaining one of his images, Gursky claimed he wanted to create the ‘most contemporary possible view’ (the artist cited in: Lynne Cooke, ‘Andreas Gursky: Visionary (Per)versions’ in: Exhibition Catalogue, Düsseldorf, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Andreas Gursky – Photographs from 1984 to the Present, 1998, p. 14). Capturing the place of refined financial speculation and the circulation of money, Chicago Mercantile Exchange serves as a wider metaphor the socioeconomic topography of our era. The Stock Exchange images, the first of which was Tokyo Stock Exchange (1990), belong firmly within this newly articulated monumental style in which everyday scenes within huge public spaces are played out epically in front of Gursky’s incisively controlled lens. Dr Nina Zimmer has enunciated the immense importance of this series of works, “Few artists have managed to distil the specific characteristics of a certain culture, the mind-set of a generation, or the zeitgeist of an era into a single work. Just as a handful of iconic paintings have shaped our view of the Renaissance, so too has Andreas Gursky captured the essence of the economic and social situation of the late twentieth century” (Exhibition Catalogue, Kunstmuseum Basel, Andreas Gursky, 2007-08, p. 69). Chicago Mercantile Exchange encapsulates this concept, providing a record of this uniquely charged environment for posterity.
Founded in 1898, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange had recorded an astonishing 1 billion transactions by 2004. Gursky captures the excitement of an economic powerhouse at work in the tightly orchestrated Chicago Mercantile Exchange, recording the serried ranks of traders, clerks and brokers negotiating animatedly, their arms flailing in frenzy as fortunes rise. The intense orange of trading coats swirl and enlighten the composition, whilst the commodity screens blink brightly in the background, fuelling the anticipation below. The rows of desks that rise up at the side of the chamber give, in comparison to Chicago Board of Trade, a striking horizontal emphasis to the composition, a distinctive element within other Gursky works of this period. Art historian Beate Soentgen has argued that Gursky's insistence on horizontality reinforces the link between his photographs and the technical elements of painting, asserting that, "the way in which Gursky uses the [horizontal] bands seems to activate the expressive pictorial structure the Abstract Expressionists already borrowed from Romanticism, as much as it does the explicitly expressionless order of Minimalist or Conceptualist pictures...we cannot be sure whether the expression stems from the represented things or from the representation" (Beate Soentgen in Ibid., p. 55). Safely removed from the mass hysteria of the crowd, the viewer is granted an enviable perspective, gazing down towards the hundreds of anonymous figures with an intriguing God’s-eye view of the scene, removed from the frenetic pace of the trading floor.
Since the early 1990s, Gursky has employed computer technology within his work, enabling multiple superimpositions of figures and adding greater depth and complexity to the composition. The artist recalled, “Since 1992 I have consciously made use of the possibilities offered by electronic picture processing, so as to emphasise formal elements that will enhance the picture, or, for example, to apply a picture concept that in real terms of perspective would be impossible to realise” (the artist cited in: Op. Cit, p. 14). Within Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Gursky conflates a multiplicity of moments into a single instant to create a work of sweeping breadth and powerful intensity.