Press release: Saint Louis Art Museum presents ‘Thomas Struth: Nature & Politics’

By | September 7, 2017

“Space Shuttle 1, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral 2008”
Chromogenic print; 78 1/2 × 148 1/4 inches © Thomas Struth

ST. LOUIS, Sept. 7, 2017—The Saint Louis Art Museum will present “Thomas Struth: Nature & Politics,” an exhibition highlighting a major new body of work exploring cutting-edge technology by the celebrated German photographer. The ticketed exhibition will be on view from Nov. 5 through Jan. 21, 2018.

Over the past decade, the Berlin-based artist Thomas Struth (b. 1954) has crisscrossed the globe to photograph engineering facilities and scientific research spaces. With luminous color and monumental scale, he represents the intricacies of sites where human knowledge, ambition, and imagination are advanced. More than 35 photographs on view in “Thomas Struth: Nature & Politics” throw our culture’s fascination with technology into sharp relief.

“Cinema, Anaheim 2013”
Chromogenic print; 95 1/4 × 70 7/8 inches
© Thomas Struth

Struth’s work takes viewers into spaces which are not accessible to most people, such as aeronautical centers, robotics laboratories, surgical suites, and nuclear fusion facilities. His photographs examine the human attempts to understand and harness forces of nature. Conveying a sense of awe at their scale and complexity, Struth has pushed the limits of the photographic medium, generating works—such as “Space Shuttle 1”—that are more than 12 feet wide.

“The Saint Louis Art Museum is internationally renowned for its collection of contemporary German art, which includes extraordinary photographs by Thomas Struth,” said Brent R. Benjamin, the Barbara B. Taylor Director of the Saint Louis Art Museum. “This exhibition allows our visitors to enjoy a deeper experience with the works of one of the most significant living photographers.”

(For press images of art in the exhibition, email matthew.hathaway@slam.org.)

Struth has been active since the late 1970s, and he is known for his expansive and formally rigorous photographs of urban architecture and cultural spaces.

For this most recent work, Struth extends his interests to the aesthetics of technology and innovation. Of particular fascination for Struth are images of research facilities that take on sculptural qualities. Structures are rendered in highly articulated detail, yet the functions they perform remain mysteries to the untrained eye. Rather than attempt to explain the physical phenomenon of his subject matter, Struth’s images draw out a variety of emotional responses from the viewer.

“Tokamak Asdex Upgrade Periphery, Max Planck IPP, Garching 2009”
Inkjet print; 43 × 33 3/4 inches
© Thomas Struth

The exhibition intersperses Struth’s technological subjects with other recent work, including images of the make-believe environment of Disneyland and the politically contested landscape of Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Also on view will be filmmaker Ralph Goertz’s behind-the-scenes video of Struth working with his large-format camera, as well as discussing his creative process and installing his photographs in other museums.

“Thomas Struth: Nature & Politics” is co-organized by the Museum Folkwang, Essen; Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin; and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; in collaboration with the Saint Louis Art Museum. The St. Louis presentation is supported by a grant from the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Financial assistance has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency. The project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The St. Louis presentation is curated by Eric Lutz, associate curator of prints, drawings and photographs, with Hannah Klemm, assistant curator of contemporary art.

CONTACT: Matthew Hathaway, 314.655.5493, matthew.hathaway@slam.org