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San Francisco, 1998
90 × 64 in. (228.6 × 162.56 cm)
Purchase, Erich C. Stern Fund in memory of Lucia K. Stern and the Richard and Ethel Herzfeld Foundation Acquisition Fund M1999.94
Photo credit Matthew Marks Gallery
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
In the early 1990s, German photographer Andreas Gursky, along with other students of Bernd and Hilla Becher such as Thomas Struth, Thomas Ruff, and Candida Höfer, made a splash in the international art world with monumentally scaled color photographs that rivaled the visceral impact of avant-garde painting. The Bechers' rigorous teaching methods instilled in their students a penchant for meticulously constructed pictorial compositions that depend on the contemporary social landscape for their conceptual force. Evolving from these premises, Gursky has created an oeuvre acutely aware of the global infrastructure in which images and people circulate. This photograph presents a hotel atrium from a seemingly omniscient point of view, suggesting a vertiginous conflation of the anonymous human mass with a generic architectural idiom that appears particularly ostentatious when festooned with shiny surfaces and sparkly objects.
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