Thomas Struth - Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Thursday, November 15, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private collection, Germany
    Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
    Private collection, Belgium
    Sale: Sotheby's, New York, Contemporary Art Afternoon, November 15, 2007, lot 568
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Hamburg, Kunsthalle, Thomas Struth: Museum Photographs, November 1993 - January 1994 (another example exhibited)
    Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art, November 7, 2010 - October 2011

  • Literature

    H. Belting, Thomas Struth: Museum Photographs, Munich, 1998, no. 15, p. 58 (another example illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present lot, Museo del Vaticano I, Roma, 1990, from Struth’s most famous Museum Photographs series, was taken after patient observance of the Pinacoteca (Room III), a Vatican room devoted to the Fifteenth Century High Renaissance paintings of Beato Angelico. As with any room in the bustling Vatican Museum, the experience of the contemporary visitor is often met with the diffculty of actually viewing the artwork. Struth captures this challenge astutely, no doubt catching this exact repose with the utmost care and attention as if to make a decree on the observance of art today. We are not, nor will we ever be, contextualizing these Renaissance masterpieces the way their patrons commissioned them, yet the very act of revering them brings their importance back into the art historical canon. His entire dialogue communicates between two mediums: painting and photography. These religious paintings were never meant to be viewed en masse, yet here we are viewing them recontextualized within a photograph. Struth aims to make people more aware of how to read a picture while also taking into account the intention of the photographer, “I wanted to remind my audience that when art works were made, they were not yet icons or museum pieces. When a work of art becomes fetished, it dies.” (Struth, quoted in P. Tuchman, “On Thomas Struth’s Museum Photographs”, Artnet Magazine, July 8, 2003). Museo del Vaticano I, Roma, 1990, remains a testament to the importance Struth has in contemporary art today, having infuenced both younger generations and viewers worldwide.

  • Artist Biography

    Thomas Struth

    Thomas Struth is a German photographer best known for his large-scale, classically composed photos of museum, cityscapes, and family portraits. Struth is a prominent member of the Düsseldorf School of Photography, the group of artists who studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in the mid-1970s under influential photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher. Struth’s highly centralized, balanced photos incorporate cutting-edge photographic techniques and the tenets of classical composition to develop the documentarian aims of the Bechers.

    Struth’s work has been widely celebrated by the international art community. He represented Germany at the 44th Venice Biennale in 1990 and has been the subject of major retrospectives including those at the Dallas Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Haus der Kunst, Munich. He lives and works in Berlin and New York.

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Museo del Vaticano I, Roma

digital color coupler print mounted on Plexiglas, in artist's frame
66 1/8 x 81 7/8 in. (168 x 208 cm)
Signed, inscribed, numbered, and dated "Thomas Struth, Rome 1990, 2/10, Print: 1991" on the reverse. This work is number two from an edition of ten.

$100,000 - 150,000 

Contemporary Art Day Sale

16 November 2012
New York