Andreas Gursky was born in January 1955 in Leipzig, West Germany, and soon after moved to Essen, the industrial heartland of the west. His father Willy Gursky was a commercial photographer, which provided an early education and influence on the young artist. He started his studies at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf in 1980 under the tuition of two renowned artists, Bernt and Hilla Becher. Their photographs of industrial post war Germany were rigourous studies of types grouped together into single classifications, which they called ‘typology’. Their goal was one of impersonal objectivity and proved to be inimical to Germany’s post war photographic establishment, but where as the establishment failed to invest their photography with artistic significance, the Becher’s were embraced by the new minimal and conceptual artists, and their work began appearing in their exhibitions during the 70’s. This work had an obvious effect on the young Gursky. The Tate Modern has some of his work in their collection, they are on display in the main concourse areas between exhibition rooms.
Gursky uses a large format camera which produces negatives for enlargement. From these Gursky can produce images the size of large paintings which can be viewed from a distance and close-up without losing their definition, thus facilitating this new physical dialogue with photography. This creates a relation to painting and invites new precedents despite the difference of medium. Gursky’s work has often been compared to German romantic painting, more specifically Caspar David Friedrich. Within the landscape pieces one is reminded of Friedrich’s almost surreal colours and compositions that convey the infinite in nature, through placing man and woman within its large expansiveness, so that we too may feel the sublime in nature.