About Andreas Gursky
Andreas Gursky (b. 1955 in Leipzig, Germany) is one of the pioneers of contemporary photography. A world-renowned art photographer who lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany represents a revaluation of realism within contemporary photography through conceptual staging and digital image editing. The German photographer (born 1955) popularised photography focusing on day to day human activity in commerce, sports, leisure and so on. His trademark photos show large formats of stock exchanges, ports, concert arenas, race tracks and other areas that hold human activity. The point of angle is usually elevated to take in as much area as possible.
Gursky studied photography at the Folkwang Academy in Essen during the 1970s. He started experimenting with a 4×5 inch (10.2×12.7 cm) camera which was at odds with the photography of these days. He also focused on aspects of modern life in work, business, and social life.
Gursky pushed large format photography to new heights. By 1980s he was printing on commercial photography paper using the largest print paper available. He combined print papers to make the photos even larger. He was the first photographer to produce prints larger than 6×8 feet (1.8×2.4 m).
The spectrum of Gursky’s work includes topics such as architecture, landscape, interiors, as well as large events with huge crowds such as The Mass Games of North Korea or his famed series of photos of stock exchanges throughout the world.
“It is not pure photography, what I do,” Gursky describes his own work. “All my pictures are based on a direct visual experience from which I develop an idea for a picture, which is subjected to testing in the studio and eventually worked on and precised at the computer.”
Salerno 1, 1990
Gursky says the four shots of the Salerno port in Naples were done by whim. The warm sunlight invited him to shoot a few photos. What was interesting was that there were no people in the photos, only numerous new cars, shipping containers, berthed ships and the background of the sea. He says this was the turning point at which he discovered the powerful effect of shooting great scale and sharp accuracy.
Paris, Montparnasse, 1993, C-print, 187 × 427.8 × 6.2 cm
This is an elevated view of a high-density apartment building in Paris. The dimensions are 7×13 feet (2.1×4 meters) creating a panoramic effect that captures the ground, building, and sky. The interesting thing is that Gursky did not capture the edges of the building. The overall effect is one of isolation and alienation of the inhabitants of the high-rise, which is a paradox.
Prada II, 1997
Rhein II, 1999
In this photo, Gursky combined large-scale photography and digital manipulation to create an entirely new section of the River Rheine. It is a 5×10 feet (1.5×3 meters) photo that shows a high color landscape that is free of human presence and industry. Gursky achieved this by combining several sections of the river. This photo went on to become the most expensive ever sold at an auction, fetching $4.3 million in 2011.
Chicago, Board of Trade II, 1999
In this photo, Gursky captures the frenetic activity of the Chicago Board of Trade perfectly but without any point of focus. There is movement and detail all over the photograph which also creates a feeling of more activity outside the photo.
(All images © Andreas Gursky, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2012, Sprüth Magers Berlin London)