Thomas Struth, Crosby Street, New York, 1978, Silver Gelatine Print, 66 x 84 cm, Atelier Thomas Struth, © Thomas Struth.
Thomas Struth, The Hirose Family, Hiroshima, 1987, Silver Gelatine Print, 74 x 92 cm, Atelier Thomas Struth, © Thomas Struth.
Thomas Struth, The Felsenfeld/Gold Families, Philadelphia, 2007, C-Print, 179,2 x 217 cm, Atelier Thomas Struth, © Thomas Struth.
Thomas Struth, El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, 1999, C-Print, 176,5 x 223 cm, Atelier Thomas Struth. © Thomas Struth.
Thomas Struth, Jianghan Lu, Wuhan, 1995, C-Print, 124,2 x 148,4 cm, Atelier Thomas Struth, © Thomas Struth.
Thomas Struth, Tokamak Asdex Upgrade Interior 2, Max-Planck IPP, Garching, 2009, C-Print, 141,6 x 176 cm, Atelier Thomas Struth, © Thomas Struth.
+ 41 (0)44 253 84 84
Thomas Struth. Photographs 1978-2010
June 11-September 12, 2010
At the latest since the success of his Museum Photographs in the early 1990s, Thomas Struth (born in 1954) has emerged as one of the world’s leading and most influential artistic photographers. His work develops slowly, in thematic series, between documentation and interpretation, social study and latent psychological meaning. Struth’s careful and meticulous method allies his oeuvre not only with the history of classical photography but also — by way of his constant questioning of his own representational techniques — with contemporary art as well.
Kunsthaus Zürich shows Thomas Struth’s largest and most comprehensive retrospective to date. With its more than 100 pieces the exhibition offers a full survey of Struth’s work over the past three decades. The Zurich show also includes a number of works which have just recently been completed.
Streets empty of people, visitors standing before famous artworks in renowned museums, portraits of individuals and families as well as landscapes, jungles and flowers: Struth’s photographic work over the last thirty years can be roughly classified into these four groups.
It began with his street pictures in the late 1970s. Initially structured with strict central symmetry, later more freely composed black-and-white images of European streets empty of human beings. There followed street scenes from Asian cities, now incorporating the bustle of passers-by as a central pictorial element. Struth became renowned for his museum photographs, which take the presence and comportment of visitors confronted with world-famous art in museums as their motif. Ultimately, however, Struth was just as interested in the question of the meaning centuries-old pictures are still able to convey. "The museums were almost always full to bursting, and that made me wonder what people are actually looking for when they stand in front of these historic paintings. For me a museum is a place for sharpening my instruments, my perception. What is the use of pictures from the past? How can they serve to inspire me to interesting or productive future ideas?"
Another pivotal group is composed of family photograph from around the world. Struth’s work in what at first seems an antiquated genre was triggered by the artist’s desire to understand himself: "I was trying to analyse and to comprehend myself, my own family, the position of the family in western culture; I was thinking of why we are the way we are."
Finally, in addition to Struth’s fourth central category of works, his photographs of landscapes, jungles and flowers, the exhibition will also feature a series of new pieces, some of them very large-format, which herald a new thematic classification within Struth’s oeuvre. The artist here focuses on the complex visual structures produced by complex technical facilities. These most recent pieces may be seen as the continuation of Struth's interest in a "history of human ambition," which makes itself manifest in the collective accomplishments of a given culture, whether in the form of a mediaeval cathedral, an urban structure, or the design of a space ship.
The exhibition was organized by the Kunsthaus Zürich in collaboration with K20, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein Westfalen, Düsseldorf. The show subsequently moves on to Düsseldorf, London and Porto.
Thomas Struth, Grosse Sonnenblume - N° 4, Winterthur, 1991, C-Print, 84 x 66 cm, Achenbach Kunstberatung, Düsseldorf, © Thomas Struth.
Thomas Struth, Paradise 1, Daintree/Australia, 1998, C-Print, 225,5 x 179 cm, Kunsthaus Zürich, © Thomas Struth.
Thomas Struth, Tokamak Asdex Upgrade Periphery, Max Planck IPP, Garching, 2009, C-Print, 109,3 x 85,8 cm, Atelier Thomas Struth, © Thomas Struth.