Gursky is a German photographer, the kind who is the subject of the sort of people who write about art with very big words. If, for instance, you subscribe to The New Yorker, you can read a nine-year-old profile of him by Calvin Tomkins, where you will learn that there is something called the Düsseldorf School of photography—distinct from the Düsseldorf School of painting and the Düsseldorf School of electronic music—and that Gursky is one of its “ruling masters”. Pictured here in München in 2007, he is showing off his stuff to Formula One’s unretired ruling master Michael Schumacher and the FIA’s current ruling master, Jean Todt.
Those big words and the presence of ruling masters translate into big bucks. In those strange and faded years which preceded the current black hole in the world economy, this picture of his called 99 Cent II Diptychon, slathered over 140 square feet of C-print, sold at auction for rather more than 99 cents: $3.3M. M as in million. M as in ten Lamborghini Miuras.
Whatever the words, whatever the money, what Gursky can do is spot visually interesting patterns in man-made landscapes, photograph them, then photoshop them until they become slightly unreal yet recognizable.
Said photoshopping appears to sometimes involve the use of the color balance tool: it took me repeated glances at F1 Boxenstopp I, shown above, to realize that the yellow team in the top left corner is in fact Scuderia Ferrari with a yellow cast and not a rebirth with modern machinery of Ecurie Francorchamps, a racing team which campaigned Ferraris across the 50s, 60s and 70s painted with various amounts of Belgian racing yellow.
Photo Credit: Andreas Gursky, Johannes Simon/Getty Images, Brumm automodelli