You never notice arbitrary details in my work. On a formal level, countless interrelated micro and macrostructures are woven together, determined by an overall organizational principle.
From images of nature to photographs of cities, crowds, and commercial products, Andreas Gursky invents new worlds from existing elements, constructing tableaux based on his methodical observations. In his large-format, high-definition photographs, he presents hyperfocused scenes that privilege neither foreground nor background.
Gursky studied visual communication at the Folkwang Universität der Künste in Essen, Germany, from 1977 to 1980. He then continued his studies at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he was a master-class student of Bernd and Hilla Becher, the artist duo known for their series of photographs of selected types of industrial structures, or “typologies.” While the Bechers used a standardized, documentary style to underscore the commonality inherent in variation, Gursky’s studies propelled him to expand the idea of the photographic document by using digital manipulation and montage to record specific scenes, moments, and events. His works from the early 1990s depict factories, stock exchanges, airports, golf courses, highways, and buildings, often from aerial viewpoints that reveal the patterns of crowds and infrastructure. In 1996 he moved away from this perspective in favor of deadpan frontal views, as in the Prada series (1996–98), depicting the minimalist altars of luxury fashion, or, as in Prada II (1997), showing the empty shelves lit with fluorescent lights.
In the early 2000s Gursky began arranging his photographic montages according to classical patterns of representation. The Pyongyang photographs (2007), in particular—which show colorful, kaleidoscopic crowds of performers in North Korea—recall compositional methods used during the Renaissance. Gursky followed this series with photographs of more informal crowds, such as those at Cocoon, a famous German nightclub designed by his friend DJ Sven Väth. The club, with its perforated metallic walls, resembles a futuristic hive, and Gursky used its cavernous scale to produce hypnotic scenes that envelop the viewer in their repeated patterns.
In addition to his work focusing on social phenomena, entertainment, and urban planning, Gursky is interested in capturing the realities of the planet, often narrowing in on bodies of water, from the Rhine in Germany to the Chao Phraya in Thailand. The Bangkok series (2011) depicts the flickering, often littered, surface of this fast-flowing river at close range. For the Ocean works (2010), Gursky sourced high-definition satellite photography to generate his own interpretations of sea and land, constructing scenes of oceanic expanses with coastlines visible at the images’ outermost edges. From environmental threats to growing crowds and infrastructural development, Gursky’s photographs capture the extremes of the present moment.
I Don’t Like Fiction, I Like History
Duane Hanson with Thomas Demand, Andreas Gursky, Sharon Lockhart, and Jeff Wall
September 5–28, 2018
Ive by Gursky: A Meeting of Minds
By exploring the conventions of past portraits of industrial designers and architects, Maria Morris Hambourg unpacks Andreas Gursky’s ingenious recent portrait of Apple designer Jony Ive to reveal its layered meanings.
Jacoba Urist profiles the legendary collector.
Cast of Characters
James Lawrence explores how contemporary artists have grappled with the subject of the library.
Veil and Vault
An exhibition at the Broad in Los Angeles prompts James Lawrence to examine how artists give shape and meaning to the passage of time, and how the passage of time shapes our evolving accounts of art.
Benjamin Nugent reflects on questions of verisimilitude and American life in the group exhibition I Don’t Like Fiction, I Like History at Gagosian, Beverly Hills.
Andreas Gursky and Jeff Wall
On the occasion of a major survey of Andreas Gursky’s work at the Hayward Gallery in London, Gursky and Jeff Wall discuss the state of photography and the evolution of the medium.
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2018
The Summer 2018 Gagosian Quarterly issue is now available, featuring El Ejido, one of Andreas Gursky’s latest artworks, on its cover.
Andreas Gursky and Richie Hawtin discuss their collaboration with art historian Laura Käding.
Andreas Gursky Parrish Art Museum
Terrie Sultan, Director of the Parrish Art Museum, discusses Andreas Gursky: Landscapes (2015).
Art Basel OVR: Pioneers
Innovate, Originate, Overturn: Modern and Contemporary Pioneers
March 24–27, 2021
One of a hundred selected galleries, Gagosian is pleased to present Innovate, Originate, Overturn: Modern and Contemporary Pioneers, an exclusive online project for Art Basel’s launch of OVR: Pioneers. The presentation will include works by Helen Frankenthaler, Theaster Gates, Andreas Gursky, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Nam June Paik, and Rachel Whiteread.
Theaster Gates, American Tapestry, 2019 © Theaster Gates
November 30, 2020–January 31, 2021
Gagosian is pleased to announce The Future, the sixth in a series of annual thematic exhibitions presented by Gagosian and Jeffrey Deitch during Art Basel Miami Beach. Previously staged at the historic Moore Building in the Miami Design District, this year the collaborative project will be hosted on a new stand-alone website.
Ed Ruscha, The Future, 1999 © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Jeff McLane
“Cinema” Film Festival
Andreas Gursky, Piero Manzoni, Cy Twombly
January 28–February 1, 2020
La Fondazione, Rome
Over the course of five days, La Fondazione will be hosting a film festival showcasing films by and about artists, including Andreas Gursky: Long Shot Close Up (2009), Piero Manzoni Artista (2014), and Cy Dear (2018). To attend the free event, RSVP to email@example.com. Space is limited and will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis.
Still from Andreas Gursky: Long Shot Close Up (2009) by Jan Schmidt-Garre
December 5, 2020–August 22, 2021
Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig, Germany
For this highly personal retrospective—his first solo exhibition in the city of his birth—Andreas Gursky selected approximately eighty photographs, including around fifty extremely large-format compositions; older iconic works that have imprinted themselves on the visual memory, such as 99 Cent (1999); and new works that have yet to be exhibited in a museum.
Andreas Gursky, Kreuzfahrt, 2020 © Andreas Gursky/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020
The Essl Collection
December 7, 2020–April 5, 2021
Albertina Modern, Vienna
Complementing an overview of the Essl Collection, which has been held by the Albertina since 2017, the lower level of the Albertina Modern is presenting a special exhibition of works from the Essl Collection’s photographic holdings. In addition to notable examples of contemporary photography, the show particularly focuses on representatives of the Becher School, who studied under the influential photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in the 1970s. Work by Gregory Crewdson, Andreas Gursky, and Cindy Sherman is included.
Gregory Crewdson, Untitled, 2004 © Gregory Crewdson
August 13, 2020–February 14, 2021
City Gallery Wellington, New Zealand
Terminal is an exhibition of international art made about the airport, not for it. The exhibiting artists variously address the airport as site, form, or symbol—often by subverting its iconography and processes, or by tackling its history and politics. Work by Andreas Gursky and Taryn Simon is included.
Taryn Simon, Sausages (prohibited), 2010, from the series Contraband, 2010 © Taryn Simon
Photography’s Last Century
The Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Collection
March 10–November 30, 2020
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
This exhibition celebrates the remarkable ascendancy of photography in the last century, and Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee’s promised gift of over sixty photographs in honor of the Met’s 150th anniversary in 2020. The collection is particularly notable for its breadth and depth of works by women artists, its sustained interest in the nude, and its focus on artists’ beginnings. Work by Gregory Crewdson, Andreas Gursky, Man Ray, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, and Rachel Whiteread is included.
Gregory Crewdson, Untitled, 2005 © Gregory Crewdson