Review: Thomas Struth at the Metropolitan Museum

Written by NYPD on . Posted in New York Photo Diary

Struth PantheonThomas Struth (German, born 1954) is widely recognized as one of the most important photographers from the second half of the 20th century. In this exhibition, one can discover the Metropolitan Museum’s unparalleled holdings of photographs from this master photographer. An intimate exhibition in size, it nevertheless allows visitors to gauge Struth’s absolute grandeur.

The life-size photographs are an almost recursive encounter. Struth presents groups of captivated tourists, embraced by art and architecture that seem to devour them with their magnitude. This can be said of the resounding presence of Milan Cathedral, the Pantheon in Rome or the Imperial City in Tiananmen Square. The NASDAQ may be another face of the great forces that deceitfully invade our space. However, unlike the other monuments, its presence does not gather much notice, admiration or celebration, despite its immensity.

The exhibition is also an opportunity to discover or re-discover the series of street scenes – mostly from the late 1970s – from New York, Venice or Chicago. Although these scenes are an ode to global architecture (or its globalization), they leave the viewer unsettled due to the striking absence of human figures. Unless united by a devotional gaze, people only appear in Struth’s universe in intimate settings, for example Eleonor and Giles Robertson, both historians, in their Edinburgh home or the Restorers in their studio at San Lorenzo Maggiore, Naples.

The exhibition manages to be compelling and comprehensive with only 25 images from the late 1970s to 2013.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Joyce and Robert Menschel Hall for Modern Photography, until February 16, 2015

Reine Ullmann Okuliar


Credit: Thomas Struth, Pantheon, Rome (1990), via