‘What I wanted to achieve with this series... is to make a statement about the original process of representing people leading to my act of making a new picture, which is in a certain way a very similar mechanism: the viewer of the works seen in the photo is an instance which finds itself in a space to which I, too, belong when I stand in front of the photo. The photos illuminate the connection and should lead the viewers away from regarding the works as mere fetish objects and initiate their own understanding or intervention in historical relationships...Therein lies a moment of pause or questioning. Because the viewers are reflected in their activity, they have to wonder what they themselves are doing at the moment’ (T. Struth, quoted in ‘Interview with Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, Directions: Thomas Struth Museum Photographs, exh. cat., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., 1992, unpaged).
In choosing Las Meninas, a painting which had captivated him when he encountered it in his youth and is revered as a mysterious treatise on painting itself, as his subject matter, Struth engages in a dialogue with art and the history of art. Indeed, in Museo del Prado 5, Struth creates a sense of immersion through the scale of the picture itself. Reproducing the image on a large-scale ensures that some of the crowd appear almost life-size, as Struth places the viewer in a direct relationship with the gallery space, creating a relationship between the viewer, the visitors to the museum and the figures in Las Meninas. The artist explained, 'my intention had been to capture, by means of photography, the way people react on the paintings, their historical entrenchment in museums, and the reception of the works in the rather awe-inspiring atmosphere of institutionalised museums... [The] idea was born to show a journey through time by establishing a connection between the topics of the paintings, the artists who had made their artistic statements in them, the visitors looking at them and me whose photographs are again exhibited in galleries' (T. Struth quoted in 'Thomas Struth: Composing Pictures', in The Leica Camera Blog, October 2011, reproduced at blog.leica-camera.com).