Galerie Max Hetzler, London is pleased to announce an exhibition dedicated to new works by Thomas Struth (b. 1954). This marks the artist’s first solo exhibition in the London gallery and the first time his renowned photographs taken at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, are shown in the UK.
Reconciling forms of documentation and contemplation, Struth has been capturing our time since the late 1970s. Through his process of seeing, naming, and making visible, his photographs frame the world in a manner that uncovers the unexpected within the ordinary. Working in distinctive groups of works, each unfolding over a course of years, Struth seeks out subjects that visualise the tension between banality and the sublime.
Struth’s renditions of CERN form part of Nature and Politics (2007 –), a group of works that examine how ambition and human imagination become sculptural, spatial reality. As part of this investigation, the artist started studying the site’s complex environments in 2019. Home to the world’s largest scientific facility, CERN carries out research into the origins of the universe with the help of particle accelerators.
Part of this new body of work are photographs of building 887, the largest space at CERN also known as Experimental Hall North 1. Accommodating numerous experiments under one roof, the location caught the artist’s interest during his most recent visits. Filled with hundreds of concrete shielding blocks, the 330 metre long structure hosts over sixty detectors and scientific experiments which lay mostly hidden within endless structures of concrete bars, cable trays, and fences.
In the exhibition, three monumental panoramic photographs are shown alongside smaller works depicting leftover materials found in inconspicuous recycling containers. Scattered around the CERN site, these accumulations devoid of any clear purpose stand in contrast with the precision informing the scientific experiments.
Attesting to Struth’s deep interest in the philosophical questions and the political dimensions of scientific progress, the CERN works constitute an on-going enquiry into the pictorial possibilities offered by advanced technology. Juxtaposing science and photography, the artist dissects the claim to objectivity and truth that both realms seem to share. Appearing deserted, almost sterile at first glance, the staged emptiness of the CERN halls is in fact permeated by human presence. Forging a central tenet of Struth’s practice, the artist examines the distinctions between presence and absence, nature and culture, human and machine.
Thomas Struth (*1954, Geldern) lives and works in Berlin. Struth has exhibited his work at Galerie Max Hetzler on a regular basis since 1987. Most recently, major retrospectives of the artist's work were held at the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao (2019) and the Haus der Kunst, Munich (2017). In 2016, his comprehensive solo exhibition Nature & Politics opened at the Museum Folkwang, Essen, before being presented at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, the High Museum, Atlanta, the Moody Center for the Arts, Houston, and finally the Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri. Other major solo exhibitions have taken place at international institutions including MAST Foundation, Bologna (2019); Aspen Art Museum (2018); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2014 and 2003); Kunsthaus Zürich; Museu Serralves, Porto and K20, Düsseldorf (all 2011); Museo del Prado, Madrid (2007); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2003); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Dallas Museum of Art (2002).
Thomas Struth's works are in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Dallas Museum of Art; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; Kunsthaus Zürich; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate, London; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, among others.
Thomas Struth’s work is currently included in UK exhibitions at Tate Modern, National Portrait Gallery and Saatchi Gallery, all of which opened in June 2023.