Hong Kong Stock Exchange Ii | Andreas Gursky

Hong Kong Stock Exchange Ii 1998 | Photograph 125 x 81,4 Inch

Discover the biography and all work of the artist

INTERVIEW | Nicolas Courbon Head of Trading desk

Carmignac Gestion, Paris

For long have you been surrounded by contemporary works of art in your working environment?

NC : It’s quite a recent thing for me, as I joined Carmignac Gestion exactly two years ago. And in reality, when you first come into these offices, you don’t even dare look at the art, as you’re there to do other things. So you discover them over time. Some of them really grab your attention.

Has the presence of these works of art that are often so impressive, made you want to visit museums and art galleries more often? 

NC : I am fairly receptive to the art scene today as my wife works in the art world. She often takes me to museums and to see exhibitions. However I’m not especially knowledgable, and have an intuitive appreciation of the work I like. It’s funny as I walked round Paris Photo this year, and was really struck by a photo which I discovered in the office of a colleague the following week. I would have bought it if I’d been able to.

You have chosen to talk about the photo by Andreas Gursky « Hong Kong Stock Exchange » (1998) which is in one of the meeting rooms.

NC : Yes, it shows the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. I was attracted by its dominant colour, red. I work in the markets and colours are important in my profession. Red represents markets that are falling and green is for markets that are going up. When I came across this photo with a room full of markets in red, it had an impact on me and I told myself it was significant. What’s more, I have also worked on the trading floor, notably at the Palais Brongniart, where the atmosphere was nothing like that in the photo, and this difference fascinates me. In Gursky’s photo there isn’t much sign of life, whereas in reality, there is a lot of movement on a trading floor. Also, in the photo, everyone is wearing the same jacket, while on the trading floor people stand out with all the different colours. The photo is beautiful. It’s huge ! There must be almost a thousand people in it, it’s mind-blowing ! 

What other thoughts does this photograph trigger in you?

NC : When you look at this world that is so regimented, you wonder what it is that makes the job interesting. It is amusing to see how everything is arranged immaculately. In reality, a trading  room is very different : it moves, it’s alive, it’s active ! Perhaps Hong Kong is ahead of us, and this is the future for our trading floors ?

A photograph is a « view» ; in your opinion, why was Andreas Gursky interested in this place? 

NC : It is surely a desire to show the different culture : the way the Chinese go about their work. Everything is spick and span. If you compare this to a trading floor in Europe or the US, it is night and day !

Does the artist not want to show us that the spatial framework of a place and how it is organised reflects an intellectual framework?

NC : I believe that Andreas Gursky has taken several photos of trading rooms, but I haven’t seen them and I don’t know if he has always tried to give the same impression. This photo of 2m by 3 is impressive, majestic, with all the people together in the centre of the room, but at the same time very isolated, as they are all talking with a microphone...

Do you think there is a relationship between contemporary art and the world of finance?

NC : The way it is practiced at Carmignac Gestion, yes, there certainly is ! It is a company which stands out from its competitors for its management which is relatively open and creative, whilst also being perceptive and serious.

Interview Elisabeth COUTURIER