19.01.08 | 28.04.08
Via Monte Cardonet Rome
Galerie Greta Meert, Brussels
In the late 70s Struth began taking black and white photos of city streets in different countries around the world, from the Rhineland to Italy, New York and Tokyo. The favoured subjects of these first experiments were featureless residential buildings photographed with meticulous precision under greyish-white skies, illuminated by a neutral light and without shadows, which isolated the buildings from their contexts, recording the simplicity but also the repetitiveness of their structures. They reveal a careful assimilation of the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher, who fostered a restrained and rigorous documentary realism at the Academy in Düsseldorf; but unlike them Struth prefers a slightly transversal point of view to the fully frontal view, because it renders the form of the building and the urban space in it is set more clearly. This is evident whether he is taking detached houses in German suburbia [Friedrich-Engels-Strasse Leverkusen 1980; Kanzlerstrasse 1 Duisburg 1989] or high density apartment blocks erected in Europe after World War II and following the economic miracle of the sixties [Veddeler Brückenstrasse Hamburg 1986; Via Guglielmo (Mit Lkw) Rom 1988; Via Emilio Cornalia Mailand 1992]. This plastic objectivity in the rendering of buildings seems to contrast with the two-dimensionality of the photographic medium, leading the gaze on a virtual journey between the spaces and volumes of buildings lacking any animated presence. The pitiless clarity of the images, the distribution of the masses through chiaroscuro and the total absence of atmospheric agents which transforms the skies into abstract white fields, enables him to focus attention closely on the urban reality portrayed and to interpret the territory culturally and politically.
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 ...
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