Art Index: Andreas Gursky
Article written by Alessandro Berni on November 6, 2020
“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.”
- Andreas Gursky
Andreas Gursky (born 15 January 1955) is a German photographer and professor at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Germany. 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. He then decided to pursue a visual communication degree at the Universität Gesamthochschule Essen, then represented by photographers Otto Steinert and Michael Schmidt.
As Gursky moved to the Düsseldorf Art Academy, he came under the influence of Hilla and Bernd Becher, a photography team known for their distinctive, dispassionate method of systematically cataloging industrial machinery and architecture.
His works from the early 1990s are characterized by the depiction of factories, stock exchanges, airports, golf courses, highways, and buildings, often captured from an aerial point of view capable of revealing the hidden patterns of crowds and infrastructure. In 1996 he began favouring deadpan frontal views, an example of which we can see 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.
Presenting vast similarities with traditional landscape painting of the early 19th-century, Gursky’s photographs capture built and natural environments on a grand scale. Often taken from a lofted vantage point, the artist posthumously creates a composite of spliced multiple images of the same scene.
This technique suggests a repetition of elements and creates a surreal monumentality, as seen in his 99 Cent (1999). “In retrospect I can see that my desire to create abstractions has become more and more radical [...] Art should not be delivering a report on reality, but should be looking at what's behind something.”
Gursky was able to establish himself as an important figure of the contemporary German art scene, going on to become the subject of retrospectives at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf in 1998 and in 2001 at The Museum of Modern Art in New York.
On November 8, 2011, his photograph Rhein II sold at Christie's New York for $4.3 million, making it the most expensive photograph ever sold.
Gursky’s later work is characterised by its distinct clarity, attention to composition, and a scale that recalls historical landscape paintings. His photographs emphasize the relationships of global communities and a contemporary unitary existence. In doing so Gursky regularly employs a high point of view which allows him to capture large expanses of architecture, interiors, and vast landscapes. Gursky also uses digital manipulation to further enhance the striking nature of his images.
Andreas Gursky’s work is held in collections at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Tate Modern, London; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. He has exhibited internationally including at the Venice Biennale of Architecture (2004), the Shanghai Biennale (2002), and the Sydney Biennial (2000). Andreas Gursky holds the record for the highest price paid for a single photographic work at an auction.
Andreas Gursky (https://www.andreasgursky.com/en)
Most of Gursky's photographs come in editions of six with two artist's proofs.
Since 2010, Gursky has been represented by Gagosian Gallery. As of end 2011, he holds a current record for highest price paid at auction for a single photographic image. His print Rhein II sold for US$4,338,500 at Christie's, New York on 8 November 2011.
In 2013, Chicago Board of Trade III (1999–2009) sold for 2.2 million pounds, an auction record for a Gursky exchange photo.
According to Artprice.net price’s turnover in 2019 is $2,805,786 with the last peak in price dated 2013 with a turnover of $17,660,829. Most of his works were sold in the range of $1,000,000-$5,000,000.
The oldest auction result ever registered on the website for an artwork by this artist is a photograph sold in 1992, at Christie's, and the most recent auction result is a print-multiple sold in 2020. Artprice.com's price levels for this artist are based on 970 auction results. Specifically: photography, print-multiple, sculpture-volume.
Turnover Chronological Progression (by Artprice)
On the 12th of October, De Zwaan Veilinggebouw will auction FIFA World Cup Germany 2006, Print-Multiple, Poster, 96.5 x 65 cm, with an estimate: $351 - $468.