Hayward Gallery reopens with the first major UK retrospective of the work of acclaimed German photographer Andreas Gursky. Known for his large-scale, often spectacular pictures that portray emblematic sites and scenes of the global economy and contemporary life, he is widely regarded as one of the most significant photographers of our time.
Driven by an interest and insight into ‘the way that the world is constituted’, as well as what he describes as ‘the pure joy of seeing’, Gursky makes photographs that are not just depictions of places or situations, but reflections on the nature of image-making and the limits of human perception. Often taken from a high vantage point, these images make use of a ‘democratic’ perspective that gives equal importance to all elements of his highly detailed scenes.
This exhibition features around 60 of the artist’s ground-breaking photographs from the early 1980s through to his most recent work, and includes some of his most iconic pictures such as Paris, Montparnasse (1993) and Rhine II (1999, remastered 2015).
Andreas Gursky marks the beginning of the Hayward Gallery’s 50th anniversary year and is the first exhibition to take place in the gallery following its two-year refurbishment. For the first time since the Hayward’s original opening, the gallery’s pyramid roof lights will allow natural light into the spaces below.
The book includes a rare interview with the artist conducted by photographer Jeff Wall, which provides a unique insight into Gurksy’s working practices and early experiences.
Andreas Gursky was born in 1955 in Leipzig, East Germany. Shortly after, he and his family escaped East Germany for the West, moving first to Essen and then to Düsseldorf, where Gursky grew up.
In Essen, Gursky’s parents established a commercial photography studio, which later flourished in Düsseldorf. According to Gursky, the majority of his childhood was spent in this studio, where he would regularly plunder the ‘treasure-trove of equipment’ for ‘anything that looked like it might be fun to play with.’
Gursky studied photography at the Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen (1977–80), and the Düsseldorf Art Academy (1980–87), where the photography course was run by esteemed conceptual artists Bernd and Hilla Becher, and where artists including Gerhard Richter also taught classes. At the Academy Gursky was taught alongside Thomas Struth, Thomas Ruff, Candida Höfer and Axel Hütte – a group of photographers who have since become known as the ‘Düsseldorf School’.
While Gursky’s early pictures were made using an analogue camera – the same ‘cumbersome old Linhof’ that his father used – he has been making use of digital photography since the early 1990s. Over the past three decades his innovative photography has been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions including the National Museum of Art, Japan (2014), the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark (2012) and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2001).
Although Gursky’s work has taken him all over the world – from North and South America to Japan and North Korea – the artist continues to be based in Düsseldorf, where since 2010 he has been a professor of Liberal Arts at the Art Academy.
Visit the exhibition in the company of special guests, the exhibition’s curatorial team and artist educators. Tours take place weekly, on Thursdays at 6.30pm and Saturdays at 2pm, and take approximately 45 minutes. Tours are free with a same-day exhibition ticket.
Special guest tours take place on:
Thursday 1 February
Ralph Rugoff, Director, Hayward Gallery
Thursday 8 February
Gursky and Landscape:
Liz Wells, Professor in Photographic Culture, University of Plymouth
Thursday 15 February
Lucy Biddle, Interpretation Manager, Hayward Gallery
Thursday 1 March
Katie Guggenheim, Assistant Curator, Hayward Gallery
Thursday 22 March
Thomas Sutton, Curatorial Assistant, Hayward Gallery
Saturday 31 March
Gursky and Fiction:
Roger Luckhurst, Professor in Modern and Contemporary Literature, Birkbeck, University of London
Saturday 7 April
Gursky and Digital Post-Production:
Osei Bonsu, writer and independent curator
On all other Thursdays at 6.30pm and Saturdays at 2pm, you can explore the exhibition accompanied by one of our Hayward Gallery guides.
Unable to attend one of our scheduled tours on a Thursday or Saturday?
One-hour tours, led by one of our Hayward Gallery guides, are available for groups of up to 20 people any time the gallery is open to the public, and are £100 per group in addition to the group exhibition entry.
Teachers can book free or discounted tickets (call our group ticket line for prices) for a group of up to 30 pupils to visit Hayward Gallery and experience the exhibition on weekdays during exhibition hours (closed Tuesdays). To support your visit and lesson planning, download our learning resources in advance.
Artist educator tours
Led by creative artist educators and designed in consultation with working teachers, our school tours last approximately one hour, and can accommodate a class of up to 30 pupils at a time. These tours are offered for free, subject to availability, with a cancellation or no- show fee of £100.
Private guided tours
Looking for a VIP exhibition experience for your group? Private guided tours are available with our experienced exhibition guides. These one-hour tours are available for groups of up to 20 people anytime the gallery is open to the public are £100 per group in addition to group exhibition entry.
Groups of ten people or more can get discounted entry prices for weekday visits when tickets are booked and paid for in advance.
Group ticket prices
Adult groups: £13.50
Secondary School, College and University Groups: £5.00 (Free tutor tickets when bringing a group)
Primary schools ages 4 –11: Free (Free tutor tickets when bringing a group)
Lambeth & Southwark Schools ages 4 –16: Free
To book a private tour, a school visit or to make a group booking, call our group ticket line on 020 7960 4225 (Monday – Friday, 9.30am – 5.30pm) or email [email protected] for more information.