Thomas Struth: Museum Photographs
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Property from a Distinguished Private Collection
56 3/4 x 89 3/4 in. (144.1 x 228 cm)
Overall 62 2/3 x 92 3/8 in. (159.2 x 234.6 cm)
From the Catalogue:
“I think what happened was that the artworks in my photographs became a little bit more contemporary and the visitors were pushed back into history, because once I’ve photographed them, the moment has of course already passed. It created this double reflection of consciousness.”
Between 1989-1990 Thomas Struth created his first Museum series, a now iconic body of work. As a highly observant image maker, Struth captured visitors in dialogue with renowned works of art, artifacts, and architecture, at five of the most prestigious institutions across the globe; The Art Institute of Chicago; the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; The Louvre, Paris; The National Gallery, London; and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. In the mid-1990s, as a continuation of the series, Thomas Struth visited the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, but ultimately was dissatisfied with the pictures taken. He returned to the Pergamon a second time in 2001 and, in contrast with the first Museum pictures, positioned the visitors within the exhibition to achieve the composition he initially envisioned. The result, as visible in Pergamon Museum IV, Berlin, is an exceptionally balanced interweaving of both visitor and object within the museum context, and the narrative that unfolds.
The present lot is one of only a few examples from Thomas Struth’s Museum series where he positioned the visitors, with the only other examples being the pictures taken at the Pantheon in Rome.
—Courtesy of Phillips
Signature: Signed in pencil, printed credit, title, date and number 2/10 on a label affixed to the reverse of the frame; numbered 2/10 in ink on the reverse of the frame.
Schrimer/Mosel, Thomas Struth Museum Photographs, p. 101
Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart, Thomas Struth - Pergamon Museum 1-6, n.p.
Schirmer/Mosel, Thomas Struth: Photographs 1978-2010, p. 211
Dallas Museum of Art, Thomas Struth 1977-2002, p. 52
Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
Thomas Struth takes mesmerizing photographs that express his belief in photography as “a tool of scientific origin for psychological exploration.” He began taking pictures in 1976, influenced by his studies with three of the most important contemporary German artists of the time—painter and mixed media artist Gerhard Richter and photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher. After his early black-and-white series of deadpan views of cityscapes eerily devoid of any signs of urban life, in 1989, Struth began work on his best-known cycle, the “Museum Photographs.” In these large-format, color-saturated photographs, Struth captures individuals and crowds looking at famous works of Western art in the world’s most popular museums. While looking at the “Museum Photographs,” viewers are confronted with the act of looking itself and the social complexities of seeing and being seen.
German, b. 1954, Geldern, Germany, based in Düsseldorf, Germany