High Museum of Art Presents New Work by Photographer Thomas Struth
October 11, 2016
Internationally touring exhibition features photographs created in Atlanta, Europe, Asia and the Middle East
ATLANTA, Oct. 11, 2016 – The High is the first U.S. museum to present a new body of work by celebrated German artist Thomas Struth in the touring exhibition “Thomas Struth: Nature & Politics” (Oct. 16, 2016, through Jan. 8, 2017), which is co-organized by the High, the Museum Folkwang (Essen, Germany), and Martin-Gropius-Bau (Berlin), in collaboration with the Saint Louis Art Museum.
Struth is renowned for his innovations in large-scale color photography that span subjects including cityscapes, architecture, portraits, landscapes, museums and technology systems. “Nature & Politics” combines various strands of Struth’s oeuvre in the more than 30 works on view—placing particular focus on technology and the manufactured landscape as overarching themes. The works are global in nature, drawn from Struth’s travels in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and America over the past 10 years, and they include three photographs made in Atlanta in 2013.
“Struth is one of the defining artists of contemporary photography, and his work is striking both for its scale and complexity,” said Gregory Harris, the High’s assistant curator of photography. “This exhibition aligns with the High’s ongoing commitment to presenting photography that is simultaneously internationally significant and regionally relevant. ‘Nature & Politic’ will resonate particularly well with our audiences because it features photographs that Struth created right here in our Atlanta community.”
“Nature & Politics” features works that examine how human ambition and imagination physically manifest in the highly complex constructions that shape our world. Many of the photographs record the structural complexities of remote techno-industrial and scientific research spaces, such as physics institutes, pharmaceutical plants, space stations, dockyards, nuclear facilities and other edifices of technological production. These photographs uncover sites of scientific development—typically kept from public view—where the heights of human knowledge are enacted, debated and advanced. Struth’s images also reveal the layers of politics and the influences of the past and present often found in human-crafted environments.
The works on display include a series of panoramic views of Disneyland that Struth produced to examine the constructed imagination—in this case how Walt Disney’s memories of Europe were manifested in a fantastic yet physical reality. Also featured are images of the contested landscape of Israel and the West Bank, one of Struth’s most recent projects.
The Atlanta works in the exhibition include a photograph from the High’s permanent collection that Struth captured in the Georgia Aquarium. The monumental print, depicting a group of adults and children set against the background of a tank of underwater sea creatures, allows the viewer to feel a part of the scene and emphasizes the wonders of scientific advances and their effect on the way we experience the world. Two other photographs depict robotics workrooms at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines.
Additional works on view include:
- “Tokamak Asdex Upgrade Interior 2, Max Planck IPP, Garching” (2009): This image features the interior of tokamak, a device that confines plasma in the shape of a torus through the use of a magnetic field. The photograph was captured at the Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics in Garching, Germany.
- “Space Shuttle 1, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral” (2008): This photograph is among the earlier works featured in the exhibition and examines the confluence of politics and science in NASA’s space program.
- “Figure, Charité, Berlin” (2012): In this image, Struth captures the scene during a surgical operation that was accomplished with the help of the da Vinci Robot.
“Nature & Politics” premiered in March 2016 at the Museum Folkwang and previously traveled to Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (June 11 – Sept. 18, 2016). Following its presentation at the High, the exhibition will be on view at the Saint Louis Art Museum (fall 2017).
The exhibition is curated by Museum Folkwang Director Tobia Bezzola and the High’s former Keough Family Curator of Photography Brett Abbott.
About Thomas Struth
Born in 1954 in Geldern, Germany, and based in Berlin, Thomas Struth is renowned for his dedication to large-format photography and the impact of his tightly structured, intellectual and psychologically charged work. He attended the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from 1973 through 1980 and trained under painter Gerhard Richter and contemporary artists Bernd and Hilla Becher. After initially taking up painting, Struth turned fully to photography in 1976. From 1993 to 1996 Struth served as the first professor of photography at the newly founded Hochschule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe. He was awarded the Spectrum International Photography Prize, Stiftung Niedersachsen, Germany, in 1997, and the Werner Mantz Prize for Photography, Maastricht, the Netherlands, in 1992. In 2014, Struth was awarded an honorary fellowship by the Royal Institute of British Architects for his contributions to architecture. Struth’s photographs have been widely shown in group and solo exhibitions, and a major retrospective of his work traveled across Europe from 2010 to 2012. His photographs are included in the collections of leading national and international museums, including the High Museum of Art, the Museum Folkwang, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
The exhibition is accompanied by a 214-page catalogue published by MACK featuring 95 color illustrations with an introduction by Tobia Bezzola and essays by science historian and Princeton University professor D. Graham Burnett and social science scholar Dirk Baecker, chair for cultural theory and management at Witten/Herdecke University. (ISBN 9781910164471)
Exhibition Organization and Support
“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. In Atlanta, this exhibition is made possible with support from Delta Air Lines and the Donald and Marilyn Keough Family. Additional support is provided by Friends of A Year in Photography and Friends of Photography.
About the High Museum of Art Photography Collection
The High is home to the most robust photography program in the southeastern United States. The Museum began acquiring photographs in the early 1970s, making it one of the earliest American art museums to commit to collecting the medium. Today, photography is the largest and fastest growing collection at the High. With more than 6,000 prints, holdings focus on American work of the 20th and 21st centuries, with special strength in modernist traditions, documentary and contemporary photography. Holdings include the most significant museum collection of vintage civil rights–era prints in the nation as well as important groups of photographs by Harry Callahan, Clarence John Laughlin, William Christenberry, Ralph Gibson, Richard Misrach, Walker Evans, Peter Sekaer, Abelardo Morell and Wynn Bullock. The collection also gives special attention to pictures made in and of the South, serving as the largest and most significant repository representing the region’s important contributions to the history of photography. Since 1996, the High’s distinctive “Picturing the South” initiative has commissioned established and emerging photographers to produce work inspired by the area’s geographical and cultural landscape. Past participants include Sally Mann, Dawoud Bey, Emmet Gowin, Alex Webb and Alec Soth, whose commissions have all been added to the High’s permanent collection.
About the High Museum of Art
The High is the leading art museum in the southeastern United States. With more than 15,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American art; a substantial collection of historical and contemporary decorative arts and design; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography, folk and self-taught art, and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists. Through its education department, the High offers programs and experiences that engage visitors with the world of art, the lives of artists and the creative process. For more information about the High, visit high.org.
About The Woodruff Arts Center
The Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta, Ga., is one of the largest arts centers in the world, home to the Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre, the Grammy Award-winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) and the High Museum of Art, the leading art museum in the Southeast. One of the only arts venues in the United States to offer both visual and performing arts on a single campus, The Woodruff produces outstanding theater, music and exhibitions for nearly 1 million patrons each year. Through the combined efforts of the Alliance, the ASO and the High, The Woodruff also offers remarkable educational programming, with approximately 200,000 students taking part annually, making The Woodruff the largest arts educator in Georgia. www.woodruffcenter.org
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