About the artist

    Lives and works in Düsseldorf, Berlin and New York
    Studies at the "Kunstakademie Düsseldorf"
    1954: Born in Geldern
    1993-1996: Professor of Photography at Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe

    In 1976, as part of a student exhibition at the Academy, Thomas Struth first showed a grid composed of 49 photographs taken from a centralized perspective on Düsseldorf’s deserted streets, each of them obeying a strict logic of central symmetry.

    The compositions are simple and the photographs are neither staged nor digitally manipulated in post-production. Strong contrasts of light and shade are also avoided, Struth preferring the greyish, uninflected light of early morning. This serves to enhance the neutral treatment of the scenes.


    In 1977, Struth and Hütte travelled to England for two months; in 1979 Struth travelled to Paris to visit
    Thomas Schütte, a fellow student at the Kunstakademie, and continued his photographs of cityscapes. He went on to produce similar series in Rome (1984), Edinburgh (1985), Tokyo (1986), and elsewhere. These early works largely consisted of black-and-white shots of streets. Skyscrapers were another feature of his work, with many of his photographs attempting to show the relationship people have with their modern-day environment. In 1978 Struth was the first artist in residence at P.S. 1 Studios, Long Island City.

    In the mid-1980s, Struth added a new dimension to his work when he started to produce family portraits, some of which are in colour and others in black and white. This was after a meeting with psychoanalyst Ingo Hartmann. As a result, these works attempt to show the underlying social dynamics within a seemingly still photograph.


    In 1989, Struth began work on his best-known cycle, Museum Photographs, devoted to the visitors to some of the world's great museums and buildings, including
    The Art Institute of Chicago, the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the Accademia in Venice, and the Pantheon in Rome. Expanding the practice after living in Naples and Rome at the end of the 1980s, he also photographed visitors of churches.

    After several unsuccessful attempts to make works with visitors, he decided to stage a series of photos in 2001. Struth's "Museo del Prado" series from 2005, composed of five photographs taken over the course of one week, all shot from slightly different angles, of visitors flocking around Velázquez's Las Meninas. Also in 2005, he began producing a second series consisting of close-ups of spectators of a single work at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Here the spectators are the central object of the photograph, while the artwork itself remains outside the frame. In showing people looking at art, Struth makes viewers of his photographs aware of their own active participation in the completion of the work's meaning, not as passive consumers but as re-interpreters of the past.

    Meanwhile, Struth continues to add to his collection of family portraits. In 2002, Gerhard Richter asked Struth to make a family portrait for an article on Richter's work in the New York Times Magazine. In 2011, he was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to make a double portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh.

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