Thomas Struth (b. 1954)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE PINCUS COLLECTION
Thomas Struth (b. 1954)

Museum of Modern Art, New York

Thomas Struth (b. 1954)
Museum of Modern Art, New York
chromogenic print in artist's frame
signed twice, titled, numbered and dated 'Museum of Modern Art I New York City 1994 5/10 Thomas Struth Print 1994 Thomas Struth' (verso)
72 x 95 1/8 in. (182.8 x 241.6 cm.)
Photographed and printed in 1994, this work is number five from an edition of ten.

Another example from the edition is in the collection of The High Museum of Art, Atlanta.
Marian Goodman Gallery, New York (acquired directly from the artist).
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
H. Belting, Thomas Struth: Museum Photographs, Munich 2005 (illustrated, p. 64).
London, Hayward Gallery, The Epic & the Everyday, 1994, p. 104 (another example from the edition exhibited; illustrated in colour, unpaged).
Berlin, Berlinische Galerie, Positionen künstlerischer Photographie in Deutschland nach 1945, 1997- 1998 (another example from the edition exhibited).
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Thomas Struth: Still, 1998-1999, p. 113 (another example from the edition exhibited; illustrated in colour, p. 69). This exhibition later travelled to Paris, Centre National de la Photographie.
Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Age of Influence: Reflections in the Mirror of American Culture, 2000 (another example from the edition exhibited).
Oslo, Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst, Passenger: The Viewer as Participant, 2002, p. 89 (another example from the edition exhibited; illustrated, p. 8).
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Lot Essay

‘The idea behind the museum photographs was to retrieve masterpieces from the fate of fame, to recover them from their status as iconic paintings, to remind us that these were works which were created in a contemporary moment, by artists who had everyday lives. They can be admired but revering the artist and their work can also be an impediment. In essence, I wanted to bring together the time of the picture and the time of the viewer.’ THOMAS STRUTH

Museum of Modern Art, New York belongs to Thomas Struth’s celebrated Museum photographs series: monumental works that capture our everyday engagement with cultural and historic locations across the world. Executed at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1994, the work depicts a group of visitors standing in front of Jackson Pollock’s 1950 masterpiece One: Number 31. Caught in motion, their figures blur and double, generating a sense of abstract frenzy that subtly mirrors the dynamics of Pollock’s action painting. Widely regarded as the artist’s most important series, the Museum photographs were the product of a long investigation into the relationship between viewer and artwork. Focusing on a meticulously-selected group of museums around the world – including the Louvre in Paris, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the National Gallery in London, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others – Struth elicits an awareness of our role as spectator: not only as a consumer of what is presented before us, but as re-interpreters of visual culture from the past. Other works from the series are held in public collections, including National Gallery I (Tate Modern, London), Musée d’Orsay, Paris II (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and Kunsthistorisches Museum III Wien (Vancouver Art Gallery).

In the 1970s and 1980s, Struth’s practice was dominated by scenes of empty city streets and – notably - portraiture. In order to inform his approach to this age-old genre, and in tandem with his growing international acclaim, the artist began to spend increasing amounts of time in museum collections. As the realms of portrait painting and contemporary photography began to collide within his practice, ‘there arose the idea to bring these two things, with the medium of reproduction, the currently appropriate medium, to the same level; to make a reproduction of a painted image and at the same time to produce a new image in which real persons of today are shown’ (T. Struth, quoted in ‘Interview with Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, in Directions: Thomas Struth Museum Photographs, exh. cat., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., 1992, unpaged). Pursued throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, and returned to in the early 2000s, the Museum works are distinguished by their technical virtuosity. Struth uses a large format plate camera which absorbs the colour from its surroundings and injects them into the photograph. The images, by and large, were not pre-staged but composed in the moment: Struth preferred to wait for the perfect mélange of figures to pass into his view finder. The artist makes adroit use of long exposure times to capture the scene’s nuances of colour, tone, and shade with almost otherworldly luminosity.

‘My own work is about different situations in which people find themselves...’, writes Struth. ‘About the contemplation of art as a selfreflection: being confronted with your own imagination, with the fictive personification in, for example, paintings, and with the artist’s vision of the world at the same time … About people being both fascinated with and passively exposed to concepts of the future that are difficult but necessary to relate to in an active way’ (T. Struth, quoted in A. Goldstein, ‘Portraits of Self-Reflection’, C. Wylie et al., Thomas Struth 1977-2002, exh. cat., Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, 2002, p. 171). With respect to this ambition, Struth’s Museum photographs stand among his most defining achievements. Through the medium of photography, Struth momentarily collapses the gulf between past and present. By inviting us to observe the act of observing itself, the artist highlights the historical distance we instinctively impose upon museum objects. As we contemplate our own reflection in the monumental depths of the photograph, the artwork in question is born anew. Stripped of the mystical aura ascribed to it in the flesh, it reasserts its own status as a product of real circumstances – a living object, as temporally defined as the fleeting figures that gather before it.

‘Struth has been a key figure in not only bringing photography into the mainstream of contemporary art, but also imbuing his medium with the scale and ambition of great art from the past. His Museum pictures especially are masterpieces of observation that reach a sublime level of colour saturation and detail that, to my eye, are unequalled except in painting.’ PHILIPPE DE MONTEBELLO

‘Because the Museum photographs double our experience in front of the work of art, they trigger a remarkable feeling of stepping into one’s own skin again, while alienation from others and from history – the curse of the modern – is dissolved in the image.’ MARIA MORRIS HAMBOURG AND DOUGLAS EKLUND

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