Andreas Gursky

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Andreas Gursky
Gursky in 2013
Born (1955-01-15) 15 January 1955 (age 69)
Leipzig, East Germany (now Germany)
Known forPhotography
Notable workRhein II
MovementDüsseldorf School of Photography
WebsiteOfficial website

Andreas Gursky (born 15 January 1955) is a German photographer and professor at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Germany.[1]

He is known for his large format architecture and landscape colour photographs, often using a high point of view. His works reach some of the highest prices in the art market among living photographers. His photograph Rhein II was sold for $4,338,500 on 8 November 2011.[2]

Gursky shares a studio with Laurenz Berges, Thomas Ruff and Axel Hütte on the Hansaallee, in Düsseldorf.[3] The building, a former electricity station, was transformed into an artists studio and living quarters, in 2001, by architects Herzog & de Meuron, of Tate Modern fame.[4] In 2010–11, the architects worked again on the building, designing a gallery in the basement.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Gursky was born in Leipzig, East Germany in 1955. His family relocated to West Germany, moving to Essen and then Düsseldorf by the end of 1957.[6] From 1978 to 1981, he attended the Universität Gesamthochschule Essen, where he studied visual communication, led by photographers Otto Steinert and Michael Schmidt.[7] Gursky is said to have attended the university to hear Steinert, however Steinert died in 1978 and Gursky only got to attend a few of his lectures.[8]

Between 1981 and 1987 at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, Gursky received critical training and influence from his teachers Hilla and Bernd Becher,[9][10] a photographic team known for their distinctive, dispassionate method of systematically cataloging industrial machinery and architecture.[11] Gursky demonstrates a similarly methodical approach in his own larger-scale photography. Other notable influences are the British landscape photographer John Davies, whose highly detailed high vantage point images had a strong effect on the street level photographs Gursky was then making, and to a lesser degree the American photographer Joel Sternfeld.[citation needed]

Career and style[edit]

Before the 1990s, Gursky did not digitally manipulate his images.[12] In the years since, Gursky has been frank about his reliance on computers to edit and enhance his pictures, creating an art of spaces larger than the subjects photographed.[citation needed] Writing in The New Yorker magazine, the critic Peter Schjeldahl called these pictures "vast," "splashy," "entertaining," and "literally unbelievable."[13] In the same publication, critic Calvin Tomkins described Gursky as one of the "two masters" of the Düsseldorf School of Photography. In 2001, Tomkins described the experience of confronting one of Gursky's large works:[9]

The first time I saw photographs by Andreas Gursky...I had the disorienting sensation that something was happening—happening to me, I suppose, although it felt more generalized than that. Gursky's huge, panoramic colour prints—some of them up to six feet high by ten feet long—had the presence, the formal power, and in several cases the majestic aura of nineteenth-century landscape paintings, without losing any of their meticulously detailed immediacy as photographs. Their subject matter was the contemporary world, seen dispassionately and from a distance.[9]

The perspective in many of Gursky's photographs is drawn from an elevated vantage point. This position enables the viewer to encounter scenes, encompassing both centre and periphery, which are ordinarily beyond reach.[14] This sweeping perspective has been linked to an engagement with globalization.[15] Visually, Gursky is drawn to large, anonymous, man-made spaces—high-rise facades at night, office lobbies, stock exchanges, the interiors of big box retailers (See his print 99 Cent II Diptychon). In a 2001 retrospective, New York's Museum of Modern Art described the artist's work, "a sophisticated art of unembellished observation. It is thanks to the artfulness of Gursky's fictions that we recognize his world as our own."[16] Gursky's style is enigmatic and deadpan. There is little to no explanation or manipulation on the works. His photography is straightforward.[17]

Gursky's Dance Valley festival photograph, taken near Amsterdam in 1995, depicts attendees facing a DJ stand in a large arena, beneath strobe lighting effects. The pouring smoke resembles a human hand, holding the crowd in stasis. After completing the print, Gursky explained the only music he now listens to is the anonymous, beat-heavy style known as Trance, as its symmetry and simplicity echoes his own work—while playing towards a deeper, more visceral emotion.[citation needed]

The photograph 99 Cent (1999) was taken at a 99 Cents Only store on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, and depicts its interior as a stretched horizontal composition of parallel shelves, intersected by vertical white columns, in which the abundance of "neatly labeled packets are transformed into fields of colour, generated by endless arrays of identical products, reflecting off the shiny ceiling" (Wyatt Mason).[18] Rhein II (1999), depicts a stretch of the river Rhine outside Düsseldorf, immediately legible as a view of a straight stretch of water, but also as an abstract configuration of horizontal bands of colour of varying widths.[19] In his six-part series Ocean I-VI (2009–2010), Gursky used high-definition satellite photographs which he augmented from various picture sources on the Internet.[20]

Art market[edit]

Most of Gursky's photographs come in editions of six with two artist's proofs.[21]

Since 2010, Gursky has been represented by Gagosian Gallery.[22] He held the record for highest price paid at auction for a single photographic image from 2011 to 2022. His print Rhein II sold for US$4,338,500 at Christie's, New York on 8 November 2011.[23][24] In 2013, Chicago Board of Trade III (1999–2009) sold for $3,298,755, an auction record for a Gursky exchange photo.[25]


  • Andreas Gursky. Cologne: Galerie Johnen + Schöttle, 1988. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Andreas Gursky. Krefeld: Museum Haus Lange, 1989. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Siemens Kulturprogramm: Projekte 1992. Munich: Siemens AG, 1992. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Andreas Gursky.Cologne: Buchhandlung Walther König; Zurich: Kunsthalle, 1992. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Fotografien 1984–1993. Hamburg: Deichtorhallen; Munich: Schirmer/ Mosel, 1994. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Montparnasse. Cologne: Portikus & Oktagon, 1995. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Andreas Gursky. Malmö: Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art, Malmö; Cologne, Oktagon, 1995. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Images. London: Tate, 1995. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Andreas Gursky: Fotografien 1984 bis heute. Düsseldorf: Kunsthalle Düsseldorf; Munich: Schirmer/Mosel, 1998. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Andreas Gursky. Fotografien 1994–1998. Wolfsburg: Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg; Ostfildern, Hatje Cantz, 1998. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Currents 27. Andreas Gursky. Houston: Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, 1998. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Andreas Gursky. New York: Museum of Modern Art; Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2001. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Andreas Gursky. Paris: Centre national d’art et de culture Georges-Pompidou, 2002. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Andreas Gursky. Cologne: Snoeck, 2007. Edited by Thomas Weski. ISBN 978-3-936859-62-1. With an essay in English and German by Weski, and a text by Don DeLillo, "In Yankee Stadium". Exhibition catalogue.
  • Andreas Gursky. Basel: Kunstmuseum; Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2007. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Kaiserringträger der Stadt Goslar 2008. Goslar: Mönchehaus Museum; Goslar, Verein zur Förderung moderner Kunst, 2008. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Architektur. Darmstadt: Institut Mathildenhöhe; Ostfildern, Hatje Cantz, 2008. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Werke – Works 80-08. Kunstmuseen Krefeld/ Moderna Museet, Stockholm/ Vancouver Art Gallery; Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2008. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Andreas Gursky. Los Angeles: Gagosian Gallery; New York: Rizzoli, 2010. Exhibition catalogue. Two volumes.
  • Andreas Gursky at Louisiana. Louisiana: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art; Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2011. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Bangkok. Düsseldorf: Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast; Göttingen: Steidl, 2012. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Andreas Gursky. Tokyo: The National Art Centre; Osaka: The National Museum of Art; Tokyo/Osaka: Yomiuri Shimbun, 2013. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Landscapes. Exhibition catalogue. Water Mills: Parrish Art Museum; New York: Rizzoli, 2015.
  • Andreas Gursky. Steidl/Hayward Gallery, 2018. Exhibition catalog.


Gursky first exhibited his work in Germany in 1985. His first solo gallery show was held at Galerie Johnen & Schöttle, Cologne, in 1988. Gursky's first one-person museum exhibition in the United States opened at the Milwaukee Art Museum in 1998,[citation needed] and his work was the subject of a retrospective organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2001, and touring). Further museum exhibitions include Werke-Works 80-08, Kunstmuseen Krefeld (2008, and touring); and Haus der Kunst, Munich (2007, and touring). His work has been seen in international exhibitions, including the Internationale Foto-Triennale in Esslingen (1989 and 1995), the Venice Biennale (1990 and 2004), and the Biennale of Sydney (1996 and 2000).[6]

Public collections[edit]

Gursky's work is held, among others, in the following public collections:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. "Prof. Andreas Gursky". Archived from the original on 8 July 2015. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  2. ^ "Sale 2480 / Lot 44". Christie's. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  3. ^ Ruff, Thomas. "FiftyFifty Gallery, Biography of". Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  4. ^ de Meuron, Herzog. "Project 172". Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  5. ^ de Meuron, Herzog. "Project 340". Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  6. ^ a b Andreas Gursky profile Archived 2 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  7. ^ "PDF excerpt biography Andreas Gursky" (PDF). Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  8. ^ "fotofeinkost | Andreas Gursky Werke 80-08". 4 January 2009. Archived from the original on 23 December 2019. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  9. ^ a b c Tomkins, Calvin. The New Yorker. "The Big Picture." 22 January 2001.
  10. ^ Biro, Matthew (2012). "From Analogue to Digital Photography: Bernd and Hilla Becher and Andreas Gursky". History of Photography. 36 (3): 353–366. doi:10.1080/03087298.2012.686242. ISSN 0308-7298. S2CID 194076676 – via Taylor & Francis.
  11. ^ Marien, Mary Warner. Photography. 2006, pp. 371–72
  12. ^ Warren, Lynne. Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Photography. 2006, page 644
  13. ^ Schjeldahl, Peter. The New Yorker. "Reality Clicks." 27 May 2002.
  14. ^ Andreas Gursky: New work, 23 March—5 May 2007 White Cube, London, UK.
  15. ^ Williams-Wynn, Christopher (2016). "Images of equivalence: exchange-value in Andreas Gursky's photographs and production method". Photography & Culture. 9 (1): 3–24. doi:10.1080/17514517.2016.1153264. ISSN 1751-4517. S2CID 147375671 – via Taylor & Francis.
  16. ^ Museum of Modern Art. "Andreas Gursky." Exhibition Catalog, 2001
  17. ^ David Grosz, "From Shore to Gursky, Part I", Art+Auction, retrieved 16 April 2008
  18. ^ Andreas Gursky, 99 Cent, 2001 Archived 5 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine UBS Art Collection, Zürich. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  19. ^ The Andreas Gursky: Rhine II (1999) Tate Collection.
  20. ^ Andreas Gursky, 1 May-21 June 2010, Sprüth Magers, Berlin.
  21. ^ Sarah Thornton Bedfellows. Two artists who understand the beauty of business, The Economist; 20 September 2009.
  22. ^ Carol Vogel (4 November 2010), New At The Galleries The New York Times.
  23. ^ Public Lot Details (November 2011)
  24. ^ Maev Kennedy (11 November 2011). "Andreas Gursky's Rhine II photograph sells for $4.3m". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  25. ^ Gursky's Chicago stock exchange photo sells with 169% increase, Paul Fraser Collectibles
  26. ^ Gursky, Andreas. "Shanghai". The Art Institute of Chicago. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  27. ^ "Gursky | Museu Coleção Berardo | Lisboa". Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  28. ^ "Andreas Gursky". / Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  29. ^ "PCF, Paris". Centre Pompidou. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  30. ^ Andreas Gursky at the Kunsthaus Zürich (German)
  31. ^ "Stale Session". Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  32. ^ "Andreas Gursky at the Kunstmuseum, Bonn". Archived from the original on 8 October 2017. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  33. ^ Nordrhein-Westfalen, Kunstsammlung. "Kunstsammlung NRW: Startseite". Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  34. ^ "Andreas Gursky | LACMA Collections". Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  35. ^ Andreas Gursky at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  36. ^ "Milwaukee Art Museum | Collection". Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  37. ^ "Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporáneo". / Retrieved 18 September 2022.
  38. ^ "Kulturelles Erbe Köln: Gursky, Andreas, Paris, Montparnasse". Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  39. ^ "MCA – Collection: Chicago Board of Trade II". Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  40. ^ "Andreas Gursky". Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  41. ^ "Andreas Gursky | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  42. ^ "Andreas Gursky". Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  43. ^ "Artist Info". Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  44. ^ "Gursky, Andreas". SFMOMA. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  45. ^ "Andreas Gursky born 1955". Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  46. ^ "Andreas Gursky born 1955". Retrieved 18 September 2022.
  47. ^ "Andreas Gursky born 1955". Tate. Retrieved 10 September 2021.

External links[edit]