Thomas Struth – Pantheon, Rome, 1990
Thomas Struth is one of the most critically acclaimed contemporary photographers of our time. He is renowned for his black and white photographs of cities such as Düsseldorf and New York, as well as his family portraits. The artist who lives in Dusseldorf acquired his inspiration for his series of Museum Photographs while he was residing in Naples and Rome, where he discovered that there was a connection between paintings of art and religion and how these paintings connect audiences to their spirituality. The Museum Photographs, which was showcased at the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, marshaled in a new visual language in the field of photography.
In his series, Struth photographed the art and the visitors viewing it, as well as the viewer observing other audiences. As such, with the many layers of observation, Struth’s intention was to assess the museum’s control of their audience and the criteria that each museum has for exhibiting pieces in the way that it does. The purpose behind the Museum Photographs was to remind people that the iconic subjects of his photographs were once just unfamiliar paintings done by ordinary individuals.
For instance, his Galleria dell’Accademia I, Venice piece shows regular tourists in shorts and casual clothing as they wander around an exhibition hall that is dominated by Paolo Veronese’s 1573 painting The Feast in the House of Levi. Struth’s color print is as large as Veronese’s painting, yet the scene in his photograph is reminiscent of memories of an outing on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. He specifically selected Veronese’s interpretation of the Feast in the House of Levi as a subject because it had a feel of a regular dinner or lunch and it depicted a rather large party atmosphere where people have gathered to drink and make merry. As a result, his photograph of the feast allows today’s audiences to look upon the masterpiece with a new energy and perspective, just like the first time it was put on public display.
For the project, Struth utilized a European 13×18 camera, and he positioned himself strategically so that every photograph he took, whether inside a museum or in the crowded streets of Paris and Vienna, rendered onlookers in random areas, which gives his pictures more power.
In the end, he managed to create a dialogue between photography and paintings, where his choice of paintings echoes his earlier black and white work in Düsseldorf. He effectively manages to bridge the gap between space and time, where the figures in the painting and the figures observing the paintings are connected despite how much time has passed since the paintings were first made public or the space that exists between them.
Thomas Struth – Pergamon Museum I, Berlin, 2001
Thomas Struth – Pergamon Museum II, Berlin, 2001
Thomas Struth – Pergamon Museum III, Berlin, 2001
Thomas Struth – Pergamon Museum VI, Berlin, 2001
Thomas Struth – Stanze di Raffaello 2, Rome, 1990
Thomas Struth – Art Institute of Chicago I, Chicago, 1990
Thomas Struth – Art Institute of Chicago II, Chicago, 1990
Thomas Struth – Galleria dell'Accademia I, Venice, 1992
Thomas Struth – Kunsthistorisches Museum III Wien, 1989
Thomas Struth – Louvre 1, Paris, 1989
Thomas Struth – Louvre 4, Paris, 1989
Thomas Struth – Pergamon Museum IV, Berlin, 2001
Thomas Struth – National Gallery I, London, 1989
Thomas Struth – National Gallery II, London, 2001
Thomas Struth – Alte Pinakothek, Self Portrait, Munich, 2000
Thomas Struth – Mountain, 2013
Who do you imagine and how do you materialize it?
The collection of Thomas Struth: full of dynamic creativity, unseeingly authenticity.
You’d definitely know it is inspired by a life beyond what our eyes can see. He made art in an angle where our minds depict an unimaginative reality that is correlated through the art of modern technology. The conceptualization was well thought in such a way that fantasies and imagination has materialized and has become a reality.
Every painting has a story, and Struth’s creative twist portrayed how the brain’s discovery and thoughts can be reflected in a work of art.
Thomas Struth – Canyon, 2013
The work is in carving out the frame in a certain way so that it has this ambiguity. The artifice of the place has a strange effect on the body-mind presence. It seems to be something in human nature to do this: Frederick the Great built a grotto at Potsdam; the Romantics built fake ruins. But Disney is where that really became an industry.
Thomas Struth – Pond, 2013
This was taken in It’s a Small World, but it doesn’t immediately make you think of Disney. It’s an odd environment—an artificial mix of things that’s a little bizarre. It’s beautiful but it makes you a little uncomfortable.
Thomas Struth – Ride, 2013
This [Indiana Jones Adventure] reminded me of being a child, and the Düsseldorf fairground on the banks of the Rhine. There was a ride called the Geisterbahn, in which skeletons drop out of the darkness. When you’re eight years old, it scares the shit out of you. The Indiana Jones movies are a great mix of everything: the Western, the adventure story, science fiction, the Arthurian legend. This is really the imperial ride—the coals of hellfire are glowing, and every fifteen minutes a huge flame shoots out of the bottom. It’s very dark, so it was a five-minute exposure. I was sick that week, but I worked all night on this picture. I was standing there at four o’clock in the morning, thinking, This is going to kill me.
Thomas Struth – Semi Submersible Rig, DSME Shipyard, Geoje Island, 2007
ABOUT STRUTH’S WORKS IN KOREA
In March 2007, Thomas Struth went on a first trip to South Korea. He spent time in the two largest cities, Seoul and Busan, as well as visiting religious and cultural sites, important landscapes and shipyards. At the vast DSME shipyard on Geoje Island, one of the largest in the world, he photographed tankers under construction and an immense semi-submersible drilling rig. Struth made two further visits to South Korea in 2008 and 2010, as well as visiting Pyongyang in North Korea for the first time.
Thomas Struth – Paradise 01 (Daintree, Australia), 1998
ABOUT THOMAS STRUTH’S NEW PICTURES FROM PARADISE
Next to his well known Street and Museum Photographs, Thomas Struth has been taking pictures of forests in different parts of the world since 1998. By giving these images the title New Pictures from Paradise he has endowed them with a special meaning as pictures of nature before the Fall of Man. His attention focuses on wild nature, at the same time referencing and questioning representations of paradise throughout history and cultures.