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Money Talks: Andreas Gursky’s stock exchange photographs auction in London

Five photographic depictions of international stock exchanges captured by German visual artist Andreas Gursky were offered at Sotheby’s London on June 26.

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Chicago Board of Trade III (pictured), the top selling image, sold for £2.2m ($3.3m) – a 169% increase on its £800,000 ($1.2m) top estimate.

Andreas Gursky’s dramatic stock exchange series casts an ambiguous, god’s eye view over proceedings, capturing the trading floors’ chaotic topography.

It is difficult to know what Gursky is trying to show us with these photographs, however, since, viewed from a distance, the finer details become indiscernible, yet viewed close up, detail overwhelms.

Without inside knowledge, the bright bibs worn by the traders in Chicago Board of Trade III become mere splashes of colour; it is impossible to know what the various hues denote.

It has been said elsewhere that “lack of spatial depth, combined with all over surface detail recalls the work of Jackson Pollock” – another blue-chip artist.

What is clear from the works is that the (occasionally incomprehensible) figures and graphs which signal the end of nightly news bulletins belie drama on an operatic scale.

One also notices that far fewer women than men work on trading floors internationally.

Sotheby’s Oliver Barker asserts: “This is a landmark collection and undoubtedly the most important group of works by Andreas Gursky to ever come to market.

“Not only are they fresh to the market, but they represent the apotheosis of Gursky’s technique and trademark subject. Standing before these epic works one is literally engulfed by the overwhelming spectacle, power and dynamism of the stock exchanges and their trading floors.”

I am yet to make my mind up about these enormous photographs.

A penny for your thoughts?

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About paulfrasercollectibles

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