Thomas Struth

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Thomas Struth
Struth thomas skstiftungkoeln 090108.jpg
Born 1954
Geldern, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany
Nationality German
Education Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf
Known for Photography
Notable work(s) Museum Photographs (1989–2002)
Movement Düsseldorf School of Photography

Thomas Struth (born 1954) is a German photographer who is best known for his family portraits and 1970's large format black and white photographs of the streets of Düsseldorf and New York. Struth currently lives and works in Berlin and New York.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Born to ceramic potter Gisela Struth and bank director Heinrich Struth in Geldern, Germany,[2] Struth trained at the Düsseldorf Academy from 1973 until 1980 where he initially studied painting under Peter Kleemann and, from 1974, Gerhard Richter. Increasingly drawn to photography and with Richter's support, Struth, along with Candida Höfer, Axel Hütte, and Roswitha Ronkholz, joined the first year of the new photography class run by Bernd and Hilla Becher, in 1976.[3] In 2007, he was an artist in residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts.

In 2007, Struth married author Tara Bray Smith in New York.[4]

Work[edit]

In 1976, as part of a student exhibition at the Academy, Struth first showed a grid composed of 49 photographs taken from a centralized perspective[5] on Düsseldorf’s deserted streets, each of them obeying a strict logic of central symmetry.[6] The compositions are simple and the photographs are neither staged nor digitally manipulated in post-production.[7] Strong contrasts of light and shade are also avoided, Struth preferring the greyish, uninflected light of early morning. This serves to enhance the neutral treatment of the scenes.[8] In 1977, Struth and Hütte travelled to England for two months; in 1979 Struth travelled to Paris to visit Thomas Schütte, a fellow student at the Kunstakademie, and continued his photographs of cityscapes. He went on to produce similar series in Rome (1984), Edinburgh (1985), Tokyo (1986), and elsewhere. These early works largely consisted of black-and-white shots of streets. Skyscrapers were another feature of his work, with many of his photographs attempting to show the relationship people have with their modern-day environment. In 1978 Struth was the first artist in residence at P.S. 1 Studios, Long Island City.[9]

In the mid-1980s, Struth added a new dimension to his work when he started to produce family portraits, some of which are in colour and others in black and white. This was after a meeting with psychoanalyst Ingo Hartmann. As a result, these works attempt to show the underlying social dynamics within a seemingly still photograph. In 1989, Struth began work on his best-known cycle, Museum Photographs, devoted to the visitors to some of the world's great museums and buildings, including The Art Institute of Chicago, the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the Accademia in Venice, and the Pantheon in Rome. Expanding the practice after living in Naples and Rome at the end of the 1980s, he also photographed visitors of churches. From 1998 on, Struth expanded the series with images shot on sites of powerful secular significance (including Times Square and the Yosemite National Park). His pictures of the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, taken between 1996 and 2001, comprise the first series of Museum Photographs dedicated entirely to a single museum with architectural and sculptural works from classical antiquity, including the famous Pergamon Altar and the market gate of Milet.[10] After several unsuccessful attempts to make works with visitors, he decided to stage a series of photos in 2001.[11] Struth's "Museo del Prado" series from 2005, composed of five photographs taken over the course of one week, all shot from slightly different angles, of visitors flocking around Velázquez's Las Meninas. Also in 2005, he began producing a second series consisting of close-ups of spectators of a single work at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Here the spectators are the central object of the photograph, while the artwork itself remains outside the frame. In showing people looking at art, Struth makes viewers of his photographs aware of their own active participation in the completion of the work's meaning, not as passive consumers but as re-interpreters of the past.[12]

Basing himself in Düsseldorf, Struth's profile continued to expand in the 1990s. Between 1998 and 2006, Struth began scouring the earth for jungle settings in Japan, Australia, China, America and Europe;[13] his first eight large-format Pictures from Paradise were created in 1998 in the Daintree Rainforest in Australia.[14] Between 1995 and 2003, he produced a series of photographs featuring groups of people gathered at emblematic locations, whether as tourists or as pilgrims.[15] Again created throughout Asia, Europe and the Americas, mural-sized colour photographs of 2010 that are up to 4 metres long record the structural intricacy of remote techno-industrial and scientific research spaces, such as physics institutes, pharmaceutical plants, space stations, dockyards, nuclear facilities and other edifices of technological production.[16] In 2014, Struth presented a series of pictures in which he again penetrates key places of human imagination in order to scrutinize the landscape of enterprise, invention and digital engineering. Taking an archetypal site for the creation of cultural dreams and imagination, one group of pictures depicts panoramic views of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure (devoid of crowds),[17] partly inspired by Katja Eichinger’s 2008 article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung about the altered perspective and reading of the theme parks since their beginnings in the 1950s.[18]

Meanwhile, Struth continues to add to his collection of family portraits.[19] In 2002, Gerhard Richter asked Struth to make a family portrait for an article on Richter's work in the New York Times Magazine. In 2011, he was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to make a double portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh.[20]

From 1993 to 1996, Struth was the first Professor of Photography at the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe, Germany. Between 2010 and 2011, he served as Humanitas Visiting Professor in Contemporary Art at Oxford University.[21]

Exhibitions[edit]

Struth's work has been widely shown in solo and group exhibitions, among them the 44th Venice Biennale (1990) and Documenta IX (1992) at Kassel. His first solo show outside of Germany took place at Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh in 1987. In 1988, Struth exhibited in the group show "Another Objectivity", organized by the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, which sought to define a current of research born in Germany in the wake of the Bechers’ work.[22] Struth later had his first solo exhibition in the U.S. at The Renaissance Society in Chicago in 1990.[23] Following the anthological exhibitions held in 2002 at the Dallas Museum of Art and the MOCA in Los Angeles, in 2003 his work was presented at the Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum, with the screening of the video One Hour Video Portraits of portraits on which Struth had been working since 1996.[24] The centre of the exhibition was the Museum series, which featured seemingly ordinary shots of people entering churches, museums and other public places. In 2007, he became the first contemporary artist ever to be exhibited at the Museo del Prado, Madrid, among the permanent collection of old masters.

In 2010, a European retrospective of his work, "Thomas Struth: Photographs 1978–2010" was held at Kunsthaus Zürich, later traveling to Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen K20, Düsseldorf; Whitechapel Gallery, London; and Museu Serralves, Porto.

Principal exhibitions[edit]

Recognition[edit]

Struth was awarded the Spectrum International Photography Prize of Lower Saxony (1997) and the Werner Mantz Prize for Photography, The Netherlands (1992). Recent honors include an honorary residency at the Villa Aurora in Los Angeles (2013-2014); and an honorary fellowship awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).[25]

Art market[edit]

Struth usually works in editions of then prints.[26] In 2007, his work Pantheon, Rome (1994) was sold to David Zwirner[27] at Christie's New York for more than $1,000,000.[28] In 2014, an earlier version of Pantheon, Rome executed in 1992 sold for $1.25 million at Sotheby's London site.[29]

Struth has been exhibiting at Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin, since 1987; at Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, since 1989; and at Monica De Cardenas, Milan, since 1993.

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Unbewusste Orte / Unconscious Places, Bern 1987
  • Museum Photographs, Munich 1993
  • Strangers and Friends, 1994
  • Stefen Gronert und Christoph Schreier: Thomas Struth. Straßen. Fotografie 1976 bis 1995, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Cologne, 1995.
  • Portraits, Munich 1997
  • Still, Munich 1998
  • Struth, Munich 2000
  • Thomas Struth – My Portrait, 2000
  • Löwenzahnzimmer, Munich 2001
  • New Pictures from Paradise, Munich 2002
  • Photographien 1977-2002, Munich 2002
  • Pergamon Museum, Munich 2004
  • Museum Photographs, Munich 2005
  • Les Museum Photographs de Thomas Struth. Une mise en abyme, Paris/Munich 2005
  • Thomas Struth - Photographs 1978-2010, Schirmer/Mosel, 2010, ISBN 978-3-8296-0465-9
  • Thomas Struth: Unconscious Places (with an essay by Richard Sennett), Schirmer/Mosel 2012

References[edit]

  1. ^ Thomas Struth, May 5 - June 19, 2010 Marian Goodman, New York.
  2. ^ Tara Smith, Thomas Struth New York Times, April 8, 2007.
  3. ^ Struth, Thomas. "Britannica entry". Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Tara Smith, Thomas Struth New York Times, April 8, 2007.
  5. ^ Thomas Struth, February 4 — May 18, 2003 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
  6. ^ Thomas Struth: Photographs 1978-2010, 11 June - 12 September 2010 Kunsthaus Zürich.
  7. ^ Thomas Struth, Ferdinand-von-Schill-Strasse, Dessau (1991) Tate Collection.
  8. ^ Thomas Struth, Shinju-ku (TDK), Tokyo (1986) Tate Collection.
  9. ^ Thomas Struth: Making Time, April 4 - 28, 2007 Marian Goodman, New York.
  10. ^ Thomas Struth, 15 January - 28 February 2003 Monica De Cardenas, Milan.
  11. ^ David Pagel (September 21, 2002), Watching Art Watchers Is an Art in Itself Los Angeles Times.
  12. ^ Thomas Struth, February 4 — May 18, 2003 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
  13. ^ Grace Glueck (December 17, 1999), Thomas Struth -- 'New Pictures From Paradise' New York Times.
  14. ^ Thomas Struth: Photographs 1978-2010, 11 June - 12 September 2010 Kunsthaus Zürich.
  15. ^ Thomas Struth: Photographs 1978-2010, 11 June - 12 September 2010 Kunsthaus Zürich.
  16. ^ Thomas Struth, May 5 - June 19, 2010 Marian Goodman, New York.
  17. ^ J.S. Marcus (January 3, 2014), A German Goes to Adventureland Wall Street Journal.
  18. ^ Thomas Struth, January 10 - February 22, 2014 Marian Goodman, New York.
  19. ^ Liz Jobey (June 17, 2011), Master of time and space Financial Times Magazine.
  20. ^ Queen's diamond jubilee portrait revealed (June 23, 2011) Daily Telegraph.
  21. ^ Thomas Struth (Contemporary Art) Oxford University.
  22. ^ Thomas Struth - Biography Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donna Regina, Naples.
  23. ^ Thomas Struth: Photographs, March 25 – April 29, 1990 The Renaissance Society, Chicago.
  24. ^ Thomas Struth at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (02/2003)
  25. ^ Thomas Struth, January 10 – February 22, 2014 Marian Goodman, New York.
  26. ^ Thomas Struth, Pantheon, Rome (1992) Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Auction, 26 June 2013, London.
  27. ^ Judd Tully (November 14, 2007), Christie’s Gonzo Sale Disproves Doubters ARTINFO.
  28. ^ Thomas Struth (b. 1954), Pantheon, Rome (1990), Sale 1903 Christie's, Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 13 November 2007, New York.
  29. ^ J.S. Marcus (January 3, 2014), A German Goes to Adventureland Wall Street Journal.

External links[edit]