Last Updated July 13, 2018

Andreas Gursky

German (Born 1955 ) FREE LISTING Featured
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Influence: Contemporary influential

Andreas Gursky is a German photographer and visual artist known for his large-scale images, some over six feet high and ten feet long.

Gursky was born in 1955 in Leipzig, East Germany. Shortly after, he and his family escaped East Germany for the West, moving first to Essen and then to Düsseldorf, where he grew up. In Essen, Gursky’s parents established a commercial photography studio, which later flourished in Düsseldorf. According to Gursky, the majority of his childhood was spent in this studio, where he would regularly plunder the ‘treasure-trove of equipment’ for ‘anything that looked like it might be fun to play with.’

Gursky studied photography at the Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen (1977–80), and the Düsseldorf Art Academy (1980–87), where the photography course was run by Bernd and Hilla Becher, and where artists including Gerhard Richter also taught classes. At the Academy Gursky was taught alongside Thomas Struth, Thomas Ruff, Candida Höfer and Axel Hütte – a group of photographers who have since become known as the ‘Düsseldorf School’.

While Gursky’s early pictures were made using an analogue camera – the same ‘cumbersome old Linhof’ that his father used – he has been making use of digital photography since the early 1990s. Over the past three decades his photography has been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions including the National Museum of Art, Japan (2014), the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark (2012) and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2001). His work has taken him all over the world – from North and South America to Japan and North Korea – but he continues to be based in Düsseldorf, where since 2010 he has been a professor of Liberal Arts at the Art Academy.

Much has been written about the high prices paid for some of his images. In 2001 his “99 Cent II Diptych” (2001) sold for £1.7m at Sotheby’s in London to become the world’s most expensive photograph. This was overtaken by his “Rhein II” (1999), which sold for £2.7m in 2011.

Many of his most well known images offer a representation of the real world. Gursky creates them by splicing together multiple images, often taken at slightly different angles or from a high vantage point.

With his image of the Italian port city of Salerno, for example, he explains, ‘Salerno represented a change in direction. The thematic and completely straightforward moment’ was replaced with a ‘more abstract point of view.’ This abstraction is achieved by technical means: ‘By retreating further back from the subject and using a light, telephoto lens, the image composition becomes flatter, foreground and background merge into a single entity’. In a similar way we can see every single writhing body at a rave in Dortmund. Likewise, in his image of the Tokyo Stock Exchange swarms of human forms make their rhythmical, black and white patternings.

Andreas Gursky is represented by:
Sprüth Magers
Gagosian Gallery
White Cube


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