Thomas Struth: Photographs 1978 - 2010
6 July – 16 September, Galleries 1, 8 & 9
The Whitechapel Gallery’s major summer exhibition presents Thomas Struth’s
first solo show in Britain for almost 20 years. Struth’s large-scale
photographs bring his intense and precise vision to subjects as diverse as
visitors looking at famous works of art in the world’s great museums, family
portraits and the dense undergrowth of the Asian jungle.
Thomas Struth is an artist who travels widely and captures cities from New
York to Tokyo, while his latest vast colour photographs show sites of cutting
edge technology such as the Kennedy Space Station on Cape Canaveral and
Korean shipyards. The exhibition includes his iconic museum series of lifesize
photographs showing tourists admiring Michelangelo’s David statue in
Florence, Italy, and pupils chatting in front of Velazquez Las Meninas at the
Prado, Madrid. The works show the awe that art can inspire on peoples faces,
without revealing the object they are looking at, and are testament to Struth’s
continuous interest in places of culture around the globe.
The Whitechapel Gallery exhibition includes over 70 works from 1978 to
2010 and assesses the important role he has played in redefining fine
Several photographs depict a range of places in which people invest faith
and belief: from French Gothic cathedrals to the extraordinary El Capitan
rock in Yosemite National Park, California and high-tech research
laboratories pushing the boundaries of science in the twenty-first century.
Struth once compared the space shuttle programme to the construction of
medieval cathedrals, reflecting on ‘the extremes of human effort,
conviction, organisation and perhaps also hubris’. This interest in human
construction also encompasses huge-scale panoramic photographs of
sites of shipyards, oil rigs and sprawling cities in Asia; structures which
make our modern way of life possible but at the same time dwarf people in
their scale and ambition.
The artist’s most recent images of sites at the cutting edge of technology
such as his almost 4-metre-wide panorama of the space shuttle
undergoing repair at the Kennedy Space Centre on Cape Canaveral are
among the largest on view. Their ambitious scale shows the possibilities of
human achievement, but also the flaws in this ambition, as repairs are
made to the huge structure.
Struth’s early black and white photographs taken in the deserted streets
of cities including Brussels, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, London, Naples, New
York, Paris and Rome in the late 1970s and early 80s are on display,
shaped by his years growing up in re-built German cities. He has also
repeatedly photographed families he knows both near home as well as in
far-off destinations such as Lima, Shanghai and Hiroshima. While
showing cultural differences, the similarities of these portraits reveal a
shared sense of humanity.
The exhibition also includes the dense jungles and forests from Struth’s
Paradise series. They are a detailed presentation of nature, with no human
presence, in contrast to his other works about culture and systems of belief.
Notes for Editors
· Thomas Struth: Photographs 1978 – 2010 is organised by Kunstsammlung
Nordrhein Westfalen, Düsseldorf and Kunsthaus Zürich in collaboration with
the Whitechapel Gallery. The exhibition was on show at Kunsthaus Zürich from
11 June – 19 September 2010 and is on view at Kunstsammlung Nordrhein
Westfalen, Düsseldorf, from 26 February – 19 June 2011.
· Thomas Struth: Photographs 1978 – 2010 is curated by James Lingwood and
Achim Borchardt-Hume, Chief Curator.
· Thomas Struth: Photographs 1978 – 2010 is accompanied by a fully illustrated
book published by Schirmer/Mosel with key texts by Tobia Bezzola, Yaron
Ezrahi, Ruth HaCohen, Anette Kruszynski, James Lingwood, and Armin Zweite.
· The artist is creating a limited edition artwork in support of the Whitechapel
Gallery’s exhibitions and education programme.
· Thomas Struth is represented by Marian Goodman Gallery, Galerie Rüdiger
Schöttle, Galerie Max Hetzler, Gallery Hyundai, Monica De Cardenas, Galerie
Greta Meert & Paul Andriesse.
· Thomas Struth: Photographs 1978 - 2010 is supported by Christie's and the
Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen.
- · Thomas Struth, born in Geldern, Germany, in 1954, lives and works in Berlin and
New York. He is one of a generation of fine art photographers that have come to
international prominence today, including, Cindy Sherman and Jeff Wall, and
part of the pioneering group of artists including Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer
and Thomas Ruff who studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Düsseldorf. Struth
was taught by Gerhard Richter and Bernd and Hilla Becher at Düsseldorf. He
recently had a major travelling retrospective in the U.S, that included the Dallas
Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 2002. From
1993 – 1996 he was the first Professor of Photography at the newly founded
Hochschule fur Gestaltung, Karlsruhe. He was awarded the Spectrum
International Photography Prize, Stiftung Niedersachsen, Germany in 1997, and
the Werner Mantz Prize for Photography, Maastricht, The Netherlands, 1992. He
is currently visiting professor at Oxford University.
Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday, 11am – 6pm, Thursdays, 11am – 9pm.
Tickets: £9.50/£7.50 concs (including Gift Aid donation) £8.50/6.50 (without Gift Aid).
Book Now*:+44(0)844 412 4309 * Fee £1 per ticket. Whitechapel Gallery, 77 – 82
Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX. Nearest London Underground Station:
Aldgate East, Liverpool Street, Tower Gateway DLR. T + 44 (0) 20 7522 7888
The media view for Thomas Struth Photographs: 1978 – 2010 is at 10am on
Tuesday 5 July 2011, and includes a curator-led tour of the exhibition.
For further press information please contact:
Rachel Mapplebeck on 020 7522 7880, 07811 456 806
or email RachelMapplebeck@whitechapelgallery.org
Elizabeth Flanagan on 020 7522 7871
or email ElizabethFlanagan@whitechapelgallery.org