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.
Thomas Struth – Mountain, 2013
Thomas Struth’s trip to Disneyland
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.
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
Thomas Struth’s work in the Koreas
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 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.
In most of these photographs, Struth doesn’t allow our gaze to penetrate the depth of the image. Trees, branches and leaves create a dense texture that prevents us from seeing the horizon and the depth of the landscapes, which can only be guessed. Without hierarchically structuring the picture, its entire surface is crisscrossed all over and covered by plant forms – reminiscent of the lines in paintings by Jackson Pollock and Brice Marden. Struth’s jungle pictures mark the beginning of a different approach to the way the surface of photographic images captures our gaze, sending it in different directions. Thanks to their richness of details, the images are presenting a kind of silence that can be listened to for a long time before one can get to know its rules. From the first documentary portraits of families to the cityscapes, to the museums, up to the harmonic chaos of the jungles, Thomas Struth’s photographic eye has traveled the world finding new ways of representing its complexity, trying to capture the presence of the unconscious in the visible.
Thomas Struth about these works in Artforum, May 2002
My approach to the jungle pictures might be said to be new, in that my initial impulses were pictorial and emotional, rather than theoretical. They are “unconscious places” and thus seem to follow my early city pictures. These images contain a wealth of delicately branched information, which makes it almost impossible, especially in large formats, to isolate single forms. One can spend a lot of time in front of these pictures and remain helpless in terms of knowing how to deal with them. There is no socio-cultural context to be read or discovered, unlike in the photographs of people in front of paintings in museums. Standing in front of the facade of the cathedral in Milan, one experiences oneself as a human being defined by specific social and historical conditions. The jungle pictures, on the other hand, emphasize the self. Because of their consistent “all over” nature, they could be understood as membranes for meditation. They present a kind of empty space: emptied to elicit a moment of stillness and internal dialogue. You have to be able to enjoy this silence in order to communicate with yourself—and eventually with others.
About Thomas Struth
Thomas Struth is one of the leading artists in contemporary photography. Born in Geldern near Cologne in 1954, from 1973 to 1980 he studied at the Düsseldorf Academy as a student of Gerhard Richter and then Bernd Becher. By the end of the Seventies, he started to explore the possibilities of photography as psychological research. Since 1978 he takes pictures of urban landscapes, from 1980 he photographs museum visitors looking at paintings, thus exploring the different relationships between painting and photography, art and the viewer. Later he works on a broader range of subjects, working always in these groups.
Since his first museum exhibition at Kunsthalle Bern in 1987, his work has been shown extensively in museums throughout the world. In 2003 the Metropolitan in New York staged a large retrospective, and recently he had exhibitions at the Prado in Madrid in 2007 and at the Museum Madre in Naples in Spring 2008. His works are in the collections of MoMA and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo and Kunsthaus Zurich among many others.