Andreas Gursky

Ocean III

Artwork Detail

In the Oceans (2009-2010) series Gursky relinquished his position behind the camera to work with satellite images of the world as raw material, resulting in contemporary mappe del mondo on a scale befitting the cosmic grandeur of the subject. On a flight from Dubai to Melbourne, Australia, Gursky began watching the flight-path program, and was drawn to the graphic representation of earth. He saw the depiction of the edges and tips of land masses with wide blue expanses of ocean in between as a picture. The ensuing process, from diagram to large-scale photograph proved to be very involved technically. He sourced high-definition satellite photographs augmented from the internet, but given that these photographs were limited to exposing the land masses only, he was obliged to generate by artificial means the oceans and liminal zones which he intended to dominate his own images. Thus, in the darkly nuanced surfaces of the Oceans – for which he even consulted shoal maps to obtain the appropriate visual veracity – Gursky reconciles the division between the machine eye and the human eye, continuing the debates and practices begun in the nineteenth century regarding photography and the issue of artistic expression versus objective science.

Neither empirical nor cartographic but rather determined by compositional principles, Gursky’s Oceans possess that sense of the ‘terrible’ sublime associated with Romantic landscape painting and twentieth century abstraction. The singular horizontal image Ocean III, is perhaps the most striking through the sheer scale of fluid ocean that he represents, with edges of land pushed out to the far edges. The ocean appears to subtly darken around the edges with a cloudy central space creating a feeling of a deep vortex into the earth around the world’s largest ocean – the Pacific.

Ocean III
Andreas Gursky
Production date
chromogenic print
2424 x 4534 x 64 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased with funds from the Graeme Maunsell Trust, M A Serra Trust, Lyndsay Garland Trust and Dingley Trust, 2012
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
International Art
Display status
Not on display

To find out which artworks are available for print requests and reproduction please enquire here. This service only applies to select artworks in the Gallery's collection.