Nina Zimmer in Exh. Cat., Kunstmuseum Basel, Andreas Gursky, 2007-2008, p. 69
During the 1980s, Andreas Gursky emerged as one of the leading lights among a group of German photographers schooled by the eminent professors Bernd and Hilla Becher. Absorbing their systemically objective and rigorously conceptual style, Andreas Gursky's art provides a poetic commentary on our world, consisting of a series of monumental, animated vitrines which highlight the relative insignificance of any individual within the magnitude of their surroundings. The artist’s Kuwait Stock Exchange perfectly encapsulates this conceptual aim, standing as the most recent iteration of the artist’s celebrated series.
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 in Lynne Cooke, “Andreas Gursky: Visionary (Per)versions” in Exh. Cat. Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Andreas Gursky – Photographs from 1984 to the Present, Düsseldorf 1998, p. 14). Capturing the place of refined financial speculation and the circulation of money, Kuwait Stock Exchange serves as a wider metaphor for the socioeconomic topography of our era. The Stock Exchange images, the first of which was Tokyo Stock Exchange from 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, stating, “Few artists have managed to distill 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” (Exh. Cat., Kunstmuseum Basel, Andreas Gursky, Basel 2007, p. 69). Kuwait Stock Exchange encapsulates this concept, providing a record of this uniquely charged environment for posterity.
The singular quality of Gursky’s point of view is further emphasized by his unique compositional structure, created through the camera’s high vantage point, which produces an objective distance for the viewer, and has been deemed Gursky’s ‘God-like view.’ In the present work, the artist marries technical skill with this contemporary viewpoint and provides a poignant examination of the forces of globalization by capturing them in a single frame.
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