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Struth, Thomas

Biography

German, b. 1954; lives and works in Berlin

Details

Although he started out as a painter at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in the late 1970s, Thomas Struth quickly shifted to photography. On the advice of Gerhard Richter, Struth studied photography with Bernd Becher, whose typological and objective approach to organizing photographs of buildings and other architectural structures is a clear influence on Struth's early work. In his stark urban photographs from the late 1970s, and then in a later series from the late 1980s, Struth shot from the same symmetrical perspective as the Bechers. Setting his view camera in the middle of the street, beneath blank skies on overcast days to clearly render the details of each built structure, in black-and-white or in color, Struth made unyieldingly neutral views that are rich in detail yet seem to belie no emotional investment or special point of focus, seemingly neutral or objective in feeling. These depopulated cityscapes show what Struth calls the "unconscious places" within urban public spaces. "I learned that certain areas of the city have an emblematic character," Struth has said. "They express the city's character." In his later works of the 1980s, he moved on to larger formats and more culturally specific sites, creating monumental color photographs of museums and cathedrals, in which spectators gaze overhead. But Struth continues his rigid practice of capturing streetscapes, rarely if ever including a human form. With these images, through the continual repetition of vacant streets, the internalized public space is communicated as somewhere always recognizable, familiar yet strange.

Artworks by Struth, Thomas

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