• Lily Maggs

Inspired #2

Updated: Mar 20

In the second instalment of my 'Inspired' blog post series, I will be discussing the work of photographer Andreas Gursky, Painter/ Photographer Charles Sheeler, Artist's Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin and photographer Paul Strand.

Andreas Gursky

Andreas Gursky is a photographer known for his large format architecture and landscape photographs that often employ a high point of view. His images are large in scale and vibrant in colour, allowing you as the viewer to become submerged and lost within his work.

Paris, Montparnasse, 1993, Andreas Gursky

What I like about Gursky's images is how he presents them at the scale that he does, it allows you to see all the small details of the people and interiors inside the building as well as the details within the exterior. Gursky's images follow a pattern of repetition and symmetry and this combined with the use of vibrant colours immediately captures your attention. Particularly in 'Paris, Montparnasse, 1993' the image is quite repetitive in subject but when you look closer at the windows you can see each one has its own character and story.

Charles Sheeler

"Known as a painter of precise renderings of industrial forms, in an abstract-realist style, emphasising abstract qualities and geometric shapes, using clear colours and smooth surfaces"

Sheeler's drawings are unbelievably realistic and were used to document local buildings for architects. His use of geometric, block coloured shapes that are used to depict the structures of buildings are visually enticing. His use of lines and contrast in colour guides your eye across the image.

On a Shaker theme, Charles Sheeler

As well as his realistic drawings and paintings, Sheeler also did photograph architecture as well. You can see when comparing the two mediums that he transverses his style between the two. In his paintings he uses colour to create depth of field within the image, where as in his photography he uses light and shadow to create this.

Criss-Crossed Conveyors, river Rouge Plant, Ford Motor Company, Charles Sheeler

Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin

Known as 'Paper Architects', Brodsky and Utkin produced a volume of dystopian and elaborate architectural designs. The two artists collaborated on etchings, spending years on each copper plate. Brodsky and Utkin's work rethinks the city as a dream landscape, blending memories of the past with visions of the future. Within their work there is a continuity with the use of obscure shapes and patterns.

Untitled (Dome of ladders), 1989, Brodsky and Utkin

What I like about Brodsky and Utkin's work is the sense of confusion it conveys through the use of overlapping shapes, making it hard to decipher what the image is. Their choice of etching as a medium produces graphic and illustrative art that reminds me of my original scaffolding image 'Vertical Development'.

Paul Strand

American photographer Paul Strand is considered to be one of the greatest and influential photographers of the 20th Century. What I like most about Paul Stand's work is his approach to how he photographs his subjects. His work has elements of cubism; abstraction through fragmentation, multiple points of view and reduction of people and objects. Strand's use of contrast between light and shadow create powerful compositional diagonals, whilst he also abandons the traditional upright perspective of photography.

As well as creating imagery from abstract portrayals of architecture to social documentation of society, Strand was also a film-maker. Strand collaborated with artist Charles Sheeler who I have spoken about previously in this post to create a film Manhatta. Manhatta explores Manhattan in the 20th century whilst emphasising on city life and infrastructure.


Paper Architects: Refer to architects making utopian, dystopian or fantasy projects that were never meant to be built

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