March 01, 2007

The Devil Wears Prada

The Margulies has a sizable collection of vintage and contemporary photographs. The German photographer Andreas Gursky is well represented with his large scale works. I like his photograph of a Prada shoe display (Prada I). Here he captures something that is already a piece of art on its own. The store display (as a purely commercial endeavor) is so artfully done that you wonder how much the photographer contributed to it to make it his own artistic piece. But then, that may be the exact thought that he may have wanted to provoke with the viewer: The interplay between the subject, and the photographic image of the subject as distinct pieces of art.

Another one of his photographs is an image of the altar inside the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Here, the artist's large scale photo initially makes you view the whole image from afar, and then get closer to look at the details. Gursky digitally manipulates the image to add interest. You end up observing the viewers in the photograph individually. What are the two men on the far right side (one of whom appears to be a restoration worker in a white uniform) discussing? Some of the viewers seem to be completely focused on the altar, while a few others seem to be oblivious.

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