We're total fans of both Andreas Gursky and Edward Burtynsky, hall-of-fame photographers whose signature work over the years has been massive prints of huge and busy urban and/or industrial landscapes. As good fortune would have it, both artists currently have exhibitions in Chelsea: Andreas Gursky at the Gagosian Gallery on 21st Street, and Edward Burtynsky at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery on 24th Street. And just to further the happy coincidence, both Gursky and Burtynsky have taken their preferred aesthetic to its logical extreme, by going aerial with images of, in Burtynsky's case, whole regions of the earth and, with Gursky, entire oceans!. Truly spectacular, especially the Andreas Gursky photography at Gagosian, which will be up for another few weeks and really shouldn't be missed.
Andreas Gursky at Gagosian is an exhibition with two distinct parts. The first gallery as you walk in the appropriately, necessarily large space contains perhaps a dozen photographs of the Chao Phraya river, which flows through Bangkok, Thailand. Heavily retouched to the point of being almost illustrative–even, unfortunately, slightly cartoonish–this Andreas Gursky photography didn't quite do it for us. BUT, Gursky's jaw-dropping Oceans series, completed in 2010 and shown for the first time in New York here at Gagosian, more than made up for any misgivings we had about Bangkok. The photographs in Gursky's Oceans are just that: super-high-definition shots, takes from satellites, of the planet's oceans. Like: an entire ocean in a single photograph. These are unbelievably big–there aren't many galleries in the world, or even many museums, that have the space to show them properly–and they are stunningly beautiful. There's also a puzzle-ish aspect to the exhibition, and it's fun to try and figure out exactly where in the world you're looking.
Meanwhile, a few blocks away at Edward Burtynsky's Dryland Farming exhibition at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, the famed photographer offers some of his most abstract work to date, vast swaths of the isolated Monegros region up in the northeast corner of Spain. The land here is desolate, and there's very little rain, but for centuries Spanish farmers have nonetheless grown wheat, barley, corn, and other cereal grains, causing the ribbony, patchwork effect seen here. Burtynsky shot these photographs from 2,000 feet in the air (not as high above the Earth as Gursky's photos, but still…), and the strange, rich color palette and twisting shapes make these large-scale pictures initially read like paintings. And though Edward Burtynsky: Dryland Farming isn't our favorite work of his career, it's still pretty mind-blowing. And, also, lovely.
Andreas Gursky and Edward Burtynsky in Chelsea details
Andreas Gursky: Bangkok and Oceans will be on view at the Gagosian Gallery on 21st Street (between 10th and 11rth Avenues) through December 17. The Gagosian Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. For more details, please see the Andreas Gursky at Gagosian webpage, here.
Edward Burtynsky: Dryland Farming is at the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery from now through December 10. The Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery is located on 24th Street just west of 10th Avenue, and is also open on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. For more information about Edward Burtynsky: Dryland Farming, please see the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery website, here.