Noteworthy Photography Names: Andreas Gursky

Understanding German photographer Andreas Gursky’s photographs is like understanding the intricacies of a prism – its countenance sharp and pristine, sleek and triangular, an objets d’art on any anonymous coffee table. But in the hand of one who is curious of its hidden ability, the layers expose themselves as seven quiet colors playing about a wall.

At first glance, Gursky’s work translates as sharply detailed and richly colored images that include people, industry, abstract spaces and nature: aerial views of land, water, or fabricated structures. The pictures are sublime because of their large size and unusual spatial qualities. But study Gursky’s images carefully, and suddenly a deeper layer emerges (much like the 3-d picture appears after intense staring). He suggests that while humans have a significant presence in the world, essentially responsible for its workings, we are mere parts of a whole. The individual exists not as a separate entity, but as part of a complex and connected system that is fixed.

Nothing is unnecessary or out of place in Gursky’s work – everything has a proper order, is contained, and even connected. Indeed, if handled keenly, Gursky’s photographs become like the prism, sharing their own delicate secrets.

Check out a sampling of Gursky’s work at