From urban scenes to intimate portraits, Thomas Struth photographs a diverse range of subjects that divulge the cultural, historical, and psychological dispositions of modern society.Read More
Struth was born in Geldern, Germany to a ceramic potter and a bank director. In 1973, Struth attended the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he studied painting and photography alongside artists Gerhard Richter and Bernd Becher.
Initially interested in painting, Struth began to focus on photography after finding inspiration in Richter's blurred photo-paintings and Becher's industrial landscapes. In 1978, Struth was awarded a scholarship to New York by the Kunstakademie. During this period, the artist produced a series of black-and-white photographs that captured urban landscapes and derelict industrial environments around the city.
Following his scholarship to New York, Struth returned to Düsseldorf to complete his studies at the Kunstakademie.
From the mid-1970s, Thomas Struth photographed the streets of European cities including Düsseldorf, Cologne, Münich, Brussels, and Paris.
In 'Unconscious Places 1', Struth scrutinises how a single location can summarise a city. By capturing the architectural history of ordinary city streets, Struth reveals the changing conditions of contemporary society and the constant urban development that is taking place in our cities.
After living in Naples and Rome, Struth became interested in the intimate connection between painting and religion. 'Museum Photographs 1' (1989) is a series of large-scale colour photographs that captures people observing classical and Impressionist paintings in grand museum settings. Struth's series includes museums like the Louvre in Paris, the National Gallery in London, and the Gallerie dell'Academia in Venice.
'Museum Photographs 1' explores Struth's interest in the juxtaposition of contemporary situations and historical moments. The series of large-scale photographs documents two converse circumstances within one photographic plane.
In 'New Pictures From Paradise' (1998), Struth uses dense forest and jungle as the foundation for his photographs. While visiting China, Japan, and Australia in the late 1990s, Struth sought out densely wild locations for his 'Paradise' pictures.
The series came about when Struth decided he wanted to make a different kind of work with a different subject, in stark contrast to his cityscapes and museum settings. Struth's jungle landscapes reveal the potential for photographs that have a variety of layers and a depth of detail.
In this work, Struth depicts the first acknowledged self-portrait in art history by Albrecht Dürer. Alte Pinakothek (Self-Portrait) frames Struth as a blurred anonymous viewer looking at Dürer's well-known painting from the periphery.
By photographing a self-portrait from 1500, Struth plays with the idea of an artist contemplating his past and using history as a way to contextualise his own practice in contemporary society.
In 2007, Struth was invited to participate in an artist residency at the Atlantic Center for Arts in Florida. In 1997, he was awarded the Spectrum International Prize for Photography from Stiftung Niedersachsen in Hanover, Germany.
Struth's photographs have been shown at the Venice Biennale, Documenta, MoMA PS1 in New York, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.
Thomas Struth has exhibited in solo and group shows across the world.
Solo exhibitions include Thomas Struth, Galerie Greta Meert (2021); Thomas Struth, Galerie Greta Meert, Brussels (2018); Thomas Struth, Aspen Art Museum, Colorado (2018); Thomas Struth: New Works, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York (2017); Nature & Politics, Moody Center for the Arts, Rice University, Houston (2017); Figure Ground, Haus der Kunst, Munich (2017); Nature & Politics, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2016); Thomas Struth, Marian Goodman Gallery, London (2015).
Struth's group exhibitions include Local Talent, Sprüth Magers, Berlin (2020); Summer Selections, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York (2018); Une Collection de Photographies, Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels (2018); Image Building: How Photography Transforms Architecture, Parrish Art Museum, New York (2018); Beyond Nature, Galerie Sophie Scheidecker, Paris (2017); Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2017); New York Topographics: Hilla and Bernd Becher, Nicholas Nixon, Thomas Struth, Senior & Shopmaker Gallery, New York (2016); This Place, Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York (2015); Time Present, Hara Museum, Tokyo (2015); Accrochage IX, Galerie Greta Meert, Brussels (2011).
Thomas Struth's website can be found here.
Phoebe Bradford | Ocula | 2021