A print of this photo in all of its 10-foot wide glory is currently on display at the Saint Louis Art Museum. I’ve seen it before on-line. Believe me, it’s nowhere near the same as seeing it as it’s meant to be seen. At first glance, the photo seems quite realistic, but a longer look reveals the artful manipulation.
The bottom section is a reflection of the top. Some of the directional signs have been changed to nonsense words. And, (worst of all for the librarian in me) some sections of books have been swapped and moved. The idea, of course, is to play with the notion of order and artificiality.
As fictional libraries go, this photo is right there with the library scene from Beauty and the Beast, for drawing sighs from bookish people.
The Gursky photo was originally of a very real library, Stockholm Public Library designed by architect Gunnar Asplund. For comparison, here’s a more recent photo of the same space, shared via the Creative Commons license on Flickr:
Library by Andreas Gursky is being shown as part of a special exhibit at the St. Louis Art Museum, An Orchestrated Vision: The Theater of Contemporary Photography. We spent an amazing hour this morning listening to Eric Lutz, the curator (and a friend of ours), and his assistant Ann-Maree Walker talk about these stunning photographs. My favorite, of course, was Library. Rick’s was Line Shack Supervisor for EA-6B Prowler, USS Ronald Reagan, North Arabian Gulf by An-My Lê. There are other photographs that I’m still thinking about. The exhibit provokes thoughts about the nature of art, time, and space that will accompany me for days to come. I love it when an exhibit does that.
The Wall Street Journal (which doesn’t beat a path to St. Louis all that often) liked this exhibit, too: Walls Come Tumbling Down.
What are your favorite intersections of arts and books? Leave a comment!