Andreas Gursky - Modern & Contemporary Art: Evening & Day Sale London Thursday, June 27, 2024 | Phillips
  • “[Gursky’s pictures represent] a kind of liberated, weightless, disembodied photographic ‘seeing’ – different from anything previously known, or at least mobilised in art.”
    —Michael Fried

    Expansive and electric, Andreas Gursky’s dizzying panorama of Los Angeles captures the artist’s ongoing interest in forms of collective existence, in his pursuit for ‘the encyclopaedia of life’. With other examples of the edition housed in The Broad, Los Angeles and the Harvard Museums, Cambridge, in Los Angeles, Gursky chronicles the dramatic transformations in our urban age, challenging the boundaries of our perceived reality.

    Early years


    Born in Leipzig in January 1955 before being re-located to Essen and Düsseldorf in flight from East Germany to the West, photography was intrinsic to Gursky’s childhood. During his formative years, Gursky worked in his father’s commercial photography studio, on occasion featuring in advertisements produced by the company, an environment for the artist that ‘was a limitless treasure trove of equipment that [he] happily plundered’.i After finishing school, Gursky initially worked as a health-care assistant and contemplated a career in social work or psychology before resolving to return to photography, attending Folkwangschule in Essen then the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf. It was while studying at the latter until 1987 that Gursky was tutored for six years by Bernd and (unofficially) Hilla Becher - photographers that are also presented concurrently in our Phillips Modern & Contemporary Art Evening & Day Sale.

    Digital Dialogues: Abstraction to Representation


    After his formal education and a switch to digital photography, Gursky began to adopt the expansive format seen in the monumental Los Angeles and to manipulate his images postproduction. For Gursky, ‘electronic picture processing’ allowed him ‘to emphasise the formal elements that will enhance the picture, or, for example, to apply a picture concept that in real terms of perspective would be impossible to realise’.ii By referencing reality, Gursky could achieve a higher form of ‘truth’.

    “I have never been interested in people, but instead exclusively in the human species and its environment.”
    —Andreas Gursky

    Captured from a vertiginous viewpoint in the hills of the valley at night, in Los Angeles Gursky compresses the foreground, reducing the vast urban sprawl to a glowing, delicate web. The pictorial field is dominated by the deep black sky and the traces of humanity, contained in pockets of hyperclarity.  Re-imagining our collective imagination of the City of Angels, Gursky creates a mythically broad space that seems on the cusp of obliteration, skyscrapers emerging from the subtle impression of the earth’s curved surface, figured as a faint glimmer in the left half of the composition. Consciously borrowing from German Romantic notions of the sublime, like the infinite landscapes of Caspar David Friedrich, Gursky creates a space beyond visual comprehension. In this way, through photographs of Hong Kong, Paris, Manhattan and beyond, Gursky chronicles the ever-evolving urban landscapes in the contemporary world and humanity’s place within it.


    Collector’s Digest


    • Among the most prolific photographers of his generation, Andreas Gursky is known for his monumental photographs that present familiar aspects of humanity in an unfamiliar form. In addition to his creative practice, Gursky has been teaching at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf since 2010.

    • Meticulously constructing his images, Gursky produces no more than eight images a year and over the past thirty-seven years has created around 250 photographs for public exhibition.

    • Exhibited widely, recent exhibitions of the artist include the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (2012); National Art Center, Tokyo (2013); National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan (2014); Hayward Gallery, London (2018); Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig, Germany (2021); Museum Küppersmühle, Duisburg, Germany (2021–22) and Amorepacific Museum of Art, Seoul (2022).

    • Examples from the Los Angeles edition are housed in The Broad, Los Angeles and the Harvard Museums, Cambridge.



    i  Andreas Gursky, quoted in Jeff Wall, ‘Andreas Gursky in Conversation with Jeff Wall’, Andreas Gursky, exh. cat., Hayward Gallery, London, p. 112.

    ii Andreas Gursky, quoted in Lynne Cooke, ‘Andreas Gursky: Visionary (Per) Versions’, Andreas Gursky: Photographs from 1984 to the Present, exh. cat., Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, 1998, p. 14.

    • Provenance

      Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      London, Serpentine Gallery, Andreas Gursky: Photographs 1994-1998, 21 January-7 March 1999 (another example exhibited)
      Edinburgh, The Dean Gallery, Andreas Gursky: Photographs 1994-1998, 27 March–16 May 1999, p. 15 (another example exhibited and illustrated, front cover)
      Bonn, Kunstmuseum; Miami Museum of Contemporary Art, Great Illusions: Demand, Gursky, Ruscha, 17 June–28 November 1999, no. 87, p. 97 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 85)
      Cambridge, MA, Sert Gallery, Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University Art Museums, Landmark Pictures: Ed Ruscha/Andreas Gursky, 8 January–16 July 2000 (another example exhibited and illustrated, n.p., dated 1999)
      New York, Museum of Modern Art, Andreas Gursky, 4 March–15 May 2001, no. 50, pp. 162, 185, 194 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 163, dated 1999)
      Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art, Defying Gravity: Contemporary Art and Flight, 2 November 2003–7 March 2004, p. 216 (another example exhibited and illustrated, pp. 114-115, 208, dated 1999)
      Institute Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt, Andreas Gursky: Architecture, 11 May–7 September 2008, pp. 54, 56, 110 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 55, dated 1999)
      Kunstmuseen Krefeld; Stockholm, Moderna Museet; Vancouver Art Gallery, Andreas Gursky: Werke - Works 80-08, 12 October 2008–20 September 2009, p. 253 (another example exhibited and illustrated, pp. 168-169, dated 1999)

    • Literature

      Joseph Leo Koerner and Peter Nisbet, ed., The Busch-Reisinger Museum: Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, MA, and London, 2007, pp. 12-13 (another example illustrated, dated 1999)
      Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, Cambridge, MA, 2008, p. 259 (another example illustrated, p. 253 and back cover, dated 1999)

Property of a Distinguished Private Collection


Los Angeles

signed, titled, numbered and dated 'Los Angeles '98 6/6 Andreas Gursky' on the reverse
Cibachrome print face mounted to Plexiglas, in artist's frame
image: 158.3 x 316.5 cm (62 3/8 x 124 5/8 in.)
overall: 206.9 x 362 cm (81 1/2 x 142 1/2 in.)

Executed in 1998, this work is number 6 from an edition of 6.

Full Cataloguing

£400,000 - 600,000 ‡♠

Sold for £546,100

Contact Specialist

Louise Simpson
Associate Specialist
+44 7887 473 568

Modern & Contemporary Art: Evening & Day Sale

London Auction 27 June 2024