Thomas Struth's Mailänder Dom (Fassade), executed in 1998, conveys a sense of the building's overwhelming dimensions through its own size. The building visually and physically dominates both the composition and the people in front of the massive cathedral. The sharp focus on the cathedral recalls the photographs of Struth's teacher, Bernd Becher. However, Struth's image, while appearing to share Bernd and Hilla Becher's concerns with objectivity, aims to capture something more subjective, more distinctive and more profound about the world in which we live.
Western religion places the cathedral, a dramatic and sacred building, on a pedestal. However, the tourists in front of this particular cathedral in Milan are not pilgrims but tourists. This forces the viewer to consider its relative obsolescence in our more secular age. Struth depicts the cathedral most as the center of human interaction, not merely the center of the Catholic Church. The visitors, for the most part, are surely not worshippers. The religious buildings and artefacts of yore have become the tourist sites of today. Struth does not merely document how places look. He does not merely reduce the fabric of our urban life to abstraction, as is the case in so many other "objective" photographs, although these factors are important to Mailänder Dom (Fassade) and its aesthetic. Instead, he attempts to grasp and convey some essence of our existence in the cosmopolitan playground of the modern world.