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Andreas Gursky (born 15 January 1955) is a German photographer and professor at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Germany, who is best known for his large format architecture and landscape colour photographs, often using a high point of view in many of his images.
The building, which was once a power station, was converted into an artist studio and living quarters by architects Herzog & de Meuron of Tate Modern fame in 2001.
The architects worked on the building from 2010-2011, constructing a gallery in the basement.
Gursky was born in Leipzig, East Germany, in 1955. His family immigrated to West Germany, first to Essen and then Düsseldorf by 1957. He went to Essen, Germany, from 1978 to 1981, where he concentrated on visual communication, led by photographers Otto Steinert and Michael Schmidt. Gursky was reported to have attended Otto Steinert's lectures at the university, but Steinert died in 1978 and Gursky only had to attend a handful of his lectures.
Gursky's mentor, Hilla and Bernd Becher, received critical education and support from his instructors, a photographic team known for their distinctive, dispassionate approach to categorizing industrial machinery and architecture. Gursky's own larger-scale photography displays a similar methodical approach. John Davies, a British landscape photographer, whose meticulous high-vantage point photographs had a major influence on Gursky's street level portraits, as well as American photographer Joel Sternfeld.
Career and style
Gursky did not digitally manipulate his images before the 1990s. Gursky has spoken out about his reliance on computers to edit and enhance his photographs in the years since, resulting in an art of spaces larger than the photographs. Peter Schjeldahl, a New Yorker magazine, called these photographs "vast," "entertaining," and "literally unbelievable." Gursky was one of the Düsseldorf School of Photography's "two masters" in the same issue, according to critic Calvin Tomkins. Tomkins recalled in 2001 how he was confronted with one of Gursky's most notable works:
In several of Gursky's photographs, the perspective is taken from an elevated vantage point. From this vantage, the viewer is able to view scenes from both center and periphery, which are usually out of reach. This broad view has been attributed to globalization's involvement. Gursky is drawn to large, anonymous, man-made spaces, including high-rise facades at night, corporate lobbies, stock exchanges, and the interiors of major box stores (see his print 99 Cent II Diptychon). The artist's work, according to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, was "a sophisticated art of unembellished observation." We all know Gursky's fantasies as our own," owing to the artfulness of his stories. Gursky's style is enigmatic and morbid. There is no such thing as a lack of information or manipulation on the system. His photography is simple.
Participants facing a DJ stand in a large stadium under strobe lighting effects, according to Gursky's Dance Valley festival photograph, taken near Amsterdam in 1995. The pouring smoke resembles a human hand, holding the crowd in stasis. Gursky said that the only music he now listens to is Trance, which resembles his own work, while progressing to a deeper, more visceral feeling.
The photograph 99 Cent (1999) was taken at a 99 Cents Only store in Los Angeles and depicts its interior as a string of parallel shelves, intersected by vertical white columns, in which the abundance of "neatly labeled packets are turned into fields of colour, reflecting the shiny ceiling. Rhein II (1999), depicts a stretch of the river Rhine outside of Düsseldorf as a horizontal band of color of varying widths, as well as an abstract group of horizontal bands of color. Gursky's six-part series Ocean I-VI (2009-2010) incorporated high-definition satellite photographs that he augmented from various photo websites on the internet.