At the Düsseldorf Art Academy Gursky was taught by Bernd Becher. His best-known works are large-scale colour studies, crammed with detail, which could be compared to paintings in their sensuous visual impact. His subject is the contemporary capitalist environment, including supermarkets, rubbish dumps, apartment buildings, factory floors and international stock exchanges.

Since the early 1990s, Gursky has made subtle digital alterations to some of his photographs, adjusting the composition, eliminating details and enhancing colour. There are no individuals in Gursky’s photographs, instead, where figures do appear, they are reduced to ant-like proportions, embedded within the repeating patterns of the whole.

Gursky has commented:
‘My preference for clear structures is the result of my desire - perhaps illusory - to keep track of things and maintain my grip on the world.’