Los Angeles

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German (Leipzig, Germany born 1955)
Los Angeles, 1998
20th century
Chromogenic photograph on paper, face-mounted to acrylic
205 x 360 cm (80 11/16 x 141 3/4 in.)
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Purchase through the generosity of Edythe and Eli Broad, The Broad Art Foundation, and the Friends of the Busch-Reisinger Museum
, 2000.6
A spectacular nightime aerial view of Los Angeles, titled just that: "Los Angeles". The work is typical of Gursky's recent panoramic (usually overhead) views of a familiar city, region, or commercial site [e.g. a Prada showroom or the Tokyo Stock Exchange], which manage to vividly and instantaneously project an almost caricatural gestalt image (the twinkling spead of L.A. against the dark, night sky; the sleek designer colors, lighting and streamlined cases of a Prada display]. Aside from their formidable scale, and incredibly printed surfaces, there are several aspects of Gursky's work that I find especially impressive. First, he has found a way to capture the particulars of sites that should be all rights read simply as "global"--stock markets; designer boutiques; urban corporate architecture, legislative assembly halls; highway exit ramps and overhead bridges--and to portray them as at once regionally distinct and international. Second, his images manage to stop just short of caricature, or cliche, so as to seem inevitable. [One thinks: "This is exactly what L.A. looks like, flying in at night," not, "What a cliche."] Third, Gursky's images appear at once "taken" (as in straight photography and in the Johnsian sence of that word) and as painstakingly "rendered." These attributes, or more specifically the last two, Gursky's capacity to transform a cliche image into an inevitable image and to produce pictures that seem both directly photographed, or taken, and intensely subjective and painterly in the manipulation of their surface detail, led to the organization of an exhibition, "Landmark Pictures," featuring the work of Gursky and, perhaps surprisingly, Ed Ruscha.
Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, NY, From the Artist, Sold to Fogg Art Museum, 2000.
Peter Nisbet and Joseph Koerner, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, ed. Peter Nisbet Harvard University Art Museums and Scala Publishers Ltd. (Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2007), pp. 12, 13

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum Handbook, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 2008), p. 253, ill.

Exhibition History
Landmark Pictures: Ed Ruscha/Andreas Gursky, Sert Gallery, Cambridge, 06/08/2000 - 07/16/2000