Fine Art Photography Series
Andreas Gursky

Biography of Art Photographer, Dusseldorf School (under Bernd Becher).

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Andreas Gursky (b.1955)


Andreas Gursky's Photography
Most Expensive Photographs by Andreas Gursky
Other Famous 20th Century Art Photographers

See also: the History of Photography (c.1800-1900).

For a brief explanation of technical
and historical terms, please see:
Art Photography Glossary.


Andreas Gursky's Photography

One of the greatest photographers of the postmodern age, the German camera artist Andreas Gursky specializes in large-format panoramic urban landscape and architectural compositions, often digitally manipulated, featuring apartment blocks, skyscrapers, sports grounds, streets, squares, and the like. Working exclusively in colour, the viewpoint used is always at a distance and slightly elevated from the front. The viewer's gaze is not directed, so that various viewpoints are possible. His fine art photography is typically characterized by careful structuring and composition, together with a carefully balanced use of colour, perspective and light. As a result his images have an explicit painting-like quality: indeed, some have all the aura of monumental 19th-century landscape paintings. (This patient pictorialist approach distinguishes his work from the instantism of street photography.) Since the mid-1990s, Gursky has enhanced his image-making with the use of computer art, as in his famous picture Rhein II (1999) - an original photograph of the Rhine River, which was blown up to a huge size and then digitally altered to remove all buildings and people. In November 2011, this work of postmodernist pictorialism was sold at Christie's New York for $4,338,500, making it the world's most expensive photograph, and one of the highest priced works of postmodernist art in the 21st century. Another example of digital alteration is his six-part series Ocean I-VI (2009-2010), in which he used hi-definition satellite imagery augmented by other internet pictures. A more obvious masterpiece is Gursky's photograph entitled Paris, Montparnasse (1993, chromogenic colour print, Tate Collection, London). A wonderful shot of an apartment block, designed in the spirit of the French modernist Le Corbusier, it presents an abstract, dispassionate view of modern existence - notably the relationship between the individual, his community and his surroundings.


1978-1981, studies at the Folkwangschule (GHS) in Essen, under Michael Schmidt and Otto Steinert, among others. 1981-1987, studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, Dusseldorf. 1985, master's degree under Bernd/Hilla Becher (1931-2007/ b.1934). First solo exhibition 1987. Out of Candida Hofer (b.1944), Axel Hutte (b.1951), Thomas Ruff (b.1958) and Thomas Struth (b.1954), Gursky is the internationally best-known graduate of the Becher class, and arguably the closest follower of Becher's dispassionate presentation of industrial machinery and architecture. In addition to Becher, Gursky is influenced by the British landscape photographer John Davies, whose detailed high vantage point photos have a noticeable impact on the ground-level photos Gursky is making. (For a brief guide to the aesthetics and artistic nature of lens-based art, please see: Is Photography Art?)

1991-1992, participates in Siemens Fotoprojekt. 1993, in the important group exhibition Die Photographie in der deutschen Gegenwartskunst (Museum Ludwig); 1997, in the much admired stock-taking Positionen kunsterischer Photographie in Deutschland seit 1945 (Berlinische Galerie, Martin-Gropius-Bau). Awards include: 1st Deutcher Photopreis (1989), RENTA Preis (1991), Citibank Photography Prize (1998), Wilhelm-Loth-Preis/Kunstpreis from the city of Darmstadt (2003), Lead Award (2008), Kaiserring Kunstpreis from the city of Goslar (2008). 2008, La photographie a Dusseldorf, major review of the Dusseldorf school of lens-based contemporary art in the Musee d'art modern de la Ville de Paris.

Selected Exhibitions

Unless stated all shows are one-man events.

1987 Dusseldorf (Flughafen)
1988 Cologne (Galerie Johnen & Schottle - 1991)
1989 Krefeld (Germany) (Museum Haus Lange)
1989 Esslingen (Internationale Foto-Triennale 1995) group show
1990 Venice (Biennale - 2004) group show
1991 Nuremberg (Kunsthalle) group show
1991 Munich (Galerie Rudiger Schottle - 1997)
1992 Zurich (Kunsthalle)
1993 Cologne (Museum Ludwig) group show
1993 Cologne (Galerie Monika Spruth - 1996, 2004)
1994 Hamburg (Deichtorhallen)
1995 Frankfurt am Main (Portikus)
1996 Sydney (Biennale - 2000) group show
1997 Berlin (Berlinische Galerie) group show
1998 Dusseldorf (Kunsthalle)
1998 Wolfsburg (Germany) (Kunstmuseum)
2000 Eindhoven (Netherlands) (Van Abbemuseum)
2001 New York (Museum of Modern Art, MoMA)
2007 Munich (Haus der Kunst)
2007 Basel (Kunstmuseum)
2008 Darmstadt (Mathildenhohe)
2008 Paris (Musee d'art moderne de la Ville de Paris) group show
2008 Krefeld (Germany) (Kunstmuseen)
2009 Stockholm (Moderna Museet)
2009 Vancouver (Art Gallery)
2009 Stockholm (Moderna Museet)
2009 Vancouver (Vancouver Art Gallery)
2012 Humblebaek (Louisiana Museum of Modern Art)
2012 Dusseldorf (Museum Kunstpalast)

Most Expensive Photographs by Andreas Gursky

As stated above, the most expensive photo taken by Gursky, is Rhein II (1999), which sold for $4,338,500 at Christie's New York, in late 2011, confirming his status as one of the most successful postmodernist artists of the 21st century. Four years earlier, in February 2007, his image 99 Cent II Diptychon (2001) was auctioned for $3,346,456 at Sotheby's London.


Art photographs by Andreas Gursky are held in the public collections of some of the world's best galleries of contemporary art, including: the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Tate Modern, London; the Pompidou Centre, Paris; and the Kunsthaus Zurich.



Other Famous 20th Century Photographers

In addition to the great 19th-Century Photographers, as well as those artists mentioned above, here is a short list of the best known photographers of the 20th century.

John Heartfield (Helmut Herzfeld) (1891-1968) Dada photomontages
Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) Street photography
Robert Capa (1913-54) War photographs
Irving Penn (1917-2009) Fashion, ethnographical photos
Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-89) Figurative imagery and plant still lifes
Jeff Wall (b.1946) Staged photographs
Nan Goldin (b.1953) Cutting edge sociological camera art
Cindy Sherman (b.1954) Self-portraits

• For more about the architectural photography of the Dusseldorf School, see: Homepage.
• For other forms of digital camera works, see: Video Art.

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