Thomas Struth

Composition 19. Thomas Struth at the Hilti Art Foundation (solo and curated show)
Hilti Art Foundation, Vaduz
12 April - 6 October 2019

Thomas Struth, Composition 19. Thomas Struth at the Hilti Art Foundation, installation view, Hilti Art Foundation, Vaduz, 2019. Photo: Ines Agostinelli © Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein / Hilti Art Foundation
Thomas Struth, Composition 19. Thomas Struth at the Hilti Art Foundation, installation view, Hilti Art Foundation, Vaduz, 2019. Photo: Ines Agostinelli © Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein / Hilti Art Foundation

From 12 April until 6 October 2019, the Hilti Art Foundation is presenting works of the German artist Thomas Struth (* 1954) from its collection that focus on civilisation and nature, technology and culture.

In this self-curated show, Struth combines his works with paintings and sculptures from the Hilti Art Foundation collection, thus placing them for the first time in his international exhibiting career in an iconographic and aesthetic context with artworks from the 19th and 20th century.

Thomas Struth, who studied under Gerhard Richter and Bernd Becher at the Düsseldorf Art Academy from 1973 to 1980, has combined his photographs primarily into groups of works with such titles as Unbewusste Orte (Unconscious Places), Museum Photographs, Kultstätten (Cult Sites) or New Pictures from Paradise. On a global scale, he has trained his eye on streets, squares and buildings in various cities in different countries, on religious buildings and museums, including their visitors, or on the thicket of indigenous and non-European vegetation. Since around 2007 he has been increasingly interested in the complexity of industry, technology and research.

The photographs in the exhibition also concentrate on these aspects. Spread across all three floors of the building, the presentation of works is divided into the themes of People, Technology, Urbanity, Nature and Cult Spaces. The paintings and sculptures that Struth selected from the collection accompany the photographs as equals, revealing analogies in terms of both content and form. At the same time, they intensify the dialogue and the contrast between genres and epochs, for example when photographs of the Prado Museum in Madrid with baroque paintings and photographs of the Siemens Schaltwerk in Berlin with high-tech machinery are juxtaposed with the classical human figure of Wilhelm Lehmbruck. In the same sense, Struth also combines his photographs with works of Picasso, Klee, Léger, Mondrian, Giacometti, Wols, Klapheck or Richter.

Hilti Art Foundation, Vaduz


Thomas Struth et al.

The Memory of Images (group show)
Haus Lange, Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Krefeld
8 March – 2 August 2020

Thomas Struth,
Thomas Struth, "Bernauerstraße, Berlin, 1992", © Thomas Struth, courtesy of the artist and Kunstmuseen Krefeld

Talking about the past is one of the most important means of safeguarding our present and our identity. This is especially true for the works of art that capture history and memory in revealing, yet open and ambiguous images. The exhibition visualizes the diverse means of dealing with historical themes based on works from the collection of the Kunstmuseen Krefeld. With only a few exceptions – among them Käthe Kollwitz, an early chronicler of social injustice – the exhibition focuses on art from after the Cold War. The upheavals in 1989 marked a fundamental socio-political turning point that also led to new ways of aesthetic thinking. The demolition of the Palace of the Republic in the former East Berlin, a fictional moment from the life of Robert Oppenheimer, a TV documentary about the central headquarters of the Mormons, a silent interview filmed during the artist’s mother’s communist youth – many of the works share common motifs like monuments, ruins, discoveries and reconstructions. The spectrum of possible ways to deal with images of history range from documentation and staging to symbolic charging and ironic refraction.

Together with Sharon Ya’ari’s parallel solo exhibition at Haus Esters, the presentation of works from the collection forms a dialogue that highlights the artistic examination of historically charged sites and collective memory.

With works by Allora & Calzadilla, Lothar Baumgarten, Christian Boltanski, Mike Kelley / Paul McCarthy, Käthe Kollwitz, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Anri Sala, Thomas Schütte, Thomas Struth, Luc Tuymans, Jeff Wall, John Wesley.

Kunstmuseen Krefeld

Thomas Struth

Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf
21 March – 16 August 2020

For the first time, the exhibition SUBJECT and OBJECT. PHOTO RHINE RUHR will examine the relationships between the different photographic positions that have developed in the cities of the Rhineland as well as the Ruhr and at the regions’ art academies since the 1960s. This unique approach is due to the fact that such a rich photography scene was able to develop in western Germany, which has repeatedly produced new and innovative artistic positions with sometimes very different photographic approaches over the past 70 years. According to the thesis, on the one hand this is due to the density of art academies and trade schools that developed in the Rhine and Ruhr regions after the Second World War. On the other hand, it is also a result of artistic socialization through an intensive art-historical discourse, parallel artistic developments within the visual arts, and the engagement with positions of international art that were shown at the major institutions in Düsseldorf, Essen, Cologne, Krefeld, and Mönchengladbach.

An independent photo class was established in the 1970s at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf with Bernd and Hilla Becher. At what is now the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, where a photo class led by Max Burchartz existed as early as the 1920s (parallel to the developments at the Bauhaus in Dessau), photography was once again taught as an independent specialization starting in 1959, initially under Otto Steinert. Thus, two of the most internationally influential schools of photography emerged in close proximity to each other in Germany. In the vicinity of these two cities, there are further influential institutions with earlier art schools in Krefeld and Cologne in the 1960s and 1970s, where Arno Jansen served as head of the art and photography departments. In addition to the Folkwangschule in Essen and the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, the Kunsthochschule für Medien, which was founded in the 1990s, is another important site for photography in Cologne, where Beate Gütschow has been teaching artistic photography since 2011, following Jürgen Klauke and Tobias Zielony.

The teachers’ works exhibit different perspectives on the medium of photography, especially in the artistic context. In Essen there was Otto Steinert with his approach of “subjective photography.” In Düsseldorf, Bernd and Hilla Becher, who followed a conceptual approach out of which a photographic practice developed that can also be seen in the tradition of the New Objectivity of the 1920s. In Cologne, in addition to Alfred Will, who was strongly oriented toward the ideas of the German Werkbund and initially trained as a graphic designer, there was Arno Jansen, who dealt with new artistic possibilities of the medium of photography in addition to the traditional genres such as portraits and still lifes. In Krefeld there was Detlef Orlopp, whose work explored abstraction and the process of recognition through the gaze in hyper-precise photographs. The extent to which teachers in the Rhineland and the Ruhr proclaimed their own artistic work and the subjective or objective photographic approach and thus shaped several generations of young photographers to this day will be discussed and highlighted in the exhibition.

The Bechers’ legendary class with now internationally celebrated “students” such as Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Thomas Ruff, and Thomas Struth as the Düsseldorf School of Photography is one of the most successful movements in the history of photography. Graduates from Essen with Timm Rautert and Joachim Brohm are known and respected around the world for their documentary and artistic approaches. Jürgen Klauke, Astrid Klein, and Rudolf Bonvie developed independent artistic approaches in Cologne which dealt with issues of identity and gender beginning in the late 1960s. At the same time, Katharina Sieverding created her feminist-influenced art in Düsseldorf.

Central positions from all three generations as well as similarities and differences between the artistic approaches will be presented, but above all also positions that have received less attention will be featured and discussed in this context.

The Kunsthalle Düsseldorf hosted an exhibition by Bernd and Hilla Becher in 1969 under the title Anonymous Sculptures as well as a major solo exhibition with works by Andreas Gursky in 1998. Following in this tradition, and with a clear focus on artistic photography, SUBJECT and OBJECT. PHOTO RHINE RUHR explores the different fields of experimentation in the medium between subject and object.

Since the 1920s, not only in Germany, a visually striking spirit of capturing reality through photography has emerged, in which the elementary questions about the significance and meaning of the supposedly real image continue to be asked—especially with regard to the emergence of digital photography and its possibilities for manipulating the real.

The exhibition SUBJECT and OBJECT. PHOTO RHINE RUHR undertakes a methodological and chronological examination for the first time and is curated by Ralph Goertz with Gregor Jansen and Dana Bergmann.

Kunsthalle Düsseldorf