Andreas Gursky is a photographer, known for both traditional and manipulated landscapes — most famously Rhein II, which in 2011 became the most expensive photograph ever sold for a price of £2.7m. He now has two shows across London featuring his earlier works at Sprüth Magers and a wide portfolio of work including his latest creations at the massive White Cube space in Bermondsey.
There are only a handful of works at Sprüth Magers but some are spectacular, including a vision of the Niagara Falls. A boatload of tourists are wearing matching black raincoats so they resemble hooded Angels of Death as they head towards the crashing water of the falls.
Fishermen on a calm river are all seen in motion as they rush about with activity while the natural world around them feels relaxed and unperturbed, and a snowy mountain dotted with black trees is so starkly monochrome, it could pass as an abstract work.
The exhibition at White Cube contains many more works including some traditional landscapes such as aerial views of the Antarctic but also some abstract photographs of reflections upon inky water. Gursky’s strength in his later works lies in creating images you wish were true, an example of this is a grand scale cathedral that dwarfs the individuals in frame.
His recent works are surprising in how much they’ve moved away from his previous styles — they feature superheroes such as Batman on a beach or a manufactured museum featuring many of art’s most famous works. These works are remarkably kitschy and, for us, mar the rest of the exhibition.
The works at Sprüth Magers are excellent, as are some at White Cube. It’s hard to forget his latest works, though, which are so comparatively poor, they left us wishing they’d been created by another artist. But go judge for yourself.
Andreas Gursky: Early Landscapes is on at Sprüth Magers, 7a Grafton Street, W1S 4EJ until 21 June. Entrance is free.
Andreas Gursky is on at White Cube, 144-152 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ until 6 July. Entrance is free.
For more art to see in London, check out our May listings.