‘Untitled XII (no.3)’ belongs to a monumental group of four related works (‘Untitled XII’) that were born out of a moment of abstraction. As Gursky was reading, his eyes lost their direct and intimate connection with the page. This moment and the experience led him to choose the Austrian writer Robert Musil’s sprawling unfinished novel ‘The man without qualities’ (1923–42) as the basis for ‘Untitled XII’. He scrambled the text, had it typeset and made into a book, which he then photographed. The text is readable, evocative and ultimately meaningless; it functions as a grid with the edges of the page and the book cover operating as a series of minimal objects, one on top of each other. The lighting appears to be entirely uniform, however the flat surface and the various layers are underlined by a black shadow at the bottom. Gursky usually titles his photographs according to their location, but the ‘Untitled’ series, which began in 1993 when Gursky photographed a stretch of grey carpet, is very specific in relation to the perceptual and thinking processes.
Untitled XII (No. 3)
Ohne Title XII (No. 3)
type C photograph/ Diasec
222.0 x 140.0 cm image; 274.0 x 187.0 x 6.2 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed verso, pencil "A. Gursky"
Gift of the John Kaldor Family Collection 2011. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
Not on display
© Andreas Gursky/Bild-Kunst. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Journey to now: John Kaldor art projects and collection, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 18 Apr 2003–06 Jul 2003
Seven artists from the John Kaldor Family Collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 May 2015–04 Sep 2016
Referenced in 7 publications
Fiona Bradley, Images / Andreas Gursky, 1995, (colour illus.).
Jean-Francois Chevrier, Why photography matters as art as never before, 'Tableau Form; Thomas Ruff, Andreas Gursky, Luc Dleahaye', pg. 143-190, 2008.
Adam Free, Journey to now: John Kaldor art projects and collection, Adelaide, 2003, 60.
Peter Galassi, Andreas Gursky, 2001, (colour illus.).
Martin Hentschel, Andreas Gursky works 80-08, 2008, (colour illus.).
Marie Luise Syring, Andreas Gursky: photographs from 1984 to the present, 2000, (colour illus.).
Wayne Tunnicliffe (Editor), John Kaldor family collection: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2011, 236, 245 (colour illus.).