Much of German-born Andreas Gursky’s work centres around the human element of the contemporary global economy; his images of banks, stock exchanges and global corporate headquarters are often depicted as a hive of human activity. 

Chicago, Board of Trade II is a good example of this focus (or lack thereof). The numerous overlapping images that make up this piece not only imbue the work with a sense of movement, but also serve to underline the inherent unreality of the image. In a world where filters and underhanded photo manipulation attempt to pass for natural, undoctored imagery, 

Gursky’s work remains refreshingly proud of its own artifice: ‘Since 1992 I have consciously made use of the possibilities offered by electronic picture processing, so as to emphasise formal elements that will enhance the picture, or, for example, to apply a picture concept that in real terms of perspective would be impossible to realise.’

Gursky’s image avoids the trap of representation by instead attempting to highlight the brash exuberant kineticism of the stock market as a thing in itself. Here, Gursky doesn’t capture the stock exchange in itself, but the concept that lies behind it.

Gursky’s Chicago, Tate’s Constellations: Highlights from the Nation’s Collection of Modern Art.

Chicago, Board of Trade II (1999), Andreas Gursky Courtesy of Tate Liverpool

Words by Will HALBERT