19.01.08 | 28.04.08
The Falletti Family Florence
Using the same large format as for his cityscapes, in the second half of the eighties Struth began a series of portraits in colour and in black and white of individuals and family groups. The latter specifically grew out of a project of collaboration with the psychoanalyst Ingo Hartmann in 1982, which consisted in analyzing the snapshots brought by Hartmann’s patients to therapy. The result is images whose value as psycho-social documents is clearly related to the work of the German August Sander (1876–1964), who in the complex "mosaic" of social types in Das Antlitz der Zeit [Face of Our Time, 1929] conceived a true collective portrait of Germany in the second and third decades of the twentieth century.
In these portraits Struth uses relatively long exposure times, adding clarity and contrast to the individual details and achieving a hypnotic intensity in the expressions of the subjects. The long exposure times, the use of colour and the large format recover a relationship with portraiture in the pictorial tradition, because they help establish a direct, almost invasive, connection with the viewer, eliminating the effect of instantaneity. The fact that he knows the people he is portraying and the decision to leave each subject the possibility to decide how they want to be represented allows the artist to eventually obtain eloquent poses rich in significance, revealing emotional automatisms and relational dynamics or adherence to social and cultural codes of representation.
These are poses in which each sitter reveals the image they want to give of themselves and implicitly their historical and critical relationship with photography, its history and mythology. Then in the family group each individual relates to the others in a dialectic that connects the specifics of interpersonal relationships within every individual family with the structure of the hierarchical order and conflicts between generations. This means the portraits range from the informal pose, almost in movement, of the Faletti family to the austere and classical in the perfect balancing of the positions of the Richter family, and the formalization of the patriarchal role of oldest member of the Consolandi family.
Born at Geldern in 1954, Thomas Struth began his artistic training by studying painting under Peter Kleemann and Gerhard Richter at the Kunstakademie of Düsseldorf ...
[ continues ]