Lot 18
  • 18

Thomas Struth

300,000 - 400,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Thomas Struth
  • Alte Pinakothek (Self-Portrait)
  • signed on a label affixed to the reverse; numbered 4/10 on the reverse
  • chromogenic print, in artist's frame
  • framed: 162.6 by 189.9cm.; 64 by 74 3/4 in.
  • Executed in 2000.


Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin

Private Collection, New York

Acquired from the above by the present owner


Dusseldorf, Museum Kunst Palast, heute bis jetzt - zeitgenössische Fotografie aus Düsseldorf, 2002, another example exhibited

Dallas, Dallas Museum of Art; New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas Struth 1977-2002,  2002-03, p. 43, illustration of another example in colour

Berlin, Martin-Gropius Bau, Warum!, 2003, another example exhibited

Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Thomas Struth: Making Time, 2007, p. 41, illustration of another example in colour

Dusseldorf, Akademie Galerie - Die Neue Sammlung, Dürer und ... Künstler der Akademie, 2008, another example exhibited

Athens, Museum of Cycladic Art, Thomas Struth, 2009, another example exhibited

Munich, Akademie der Schönen Künste, Düsseldorfer Schule - Photographien von 1970 bis 2008 aus der Sammlung Lothar Schimer, 2009-10, another example exhibited

Zurich, Kunsthaus Zürich; Dusseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen; London, Whitechapel Gallery; Porto, Museu Serralves, Thomas Struth: Fotografien 1978-2010, 2010-12, p. 131 and p. 211, illustration of another example in colour

Graz, Kunsthaus Graz - Universalmuseum Joanneum, Vermessung der Welt, Heterotopien und Wissensräume in der Kunst, 2011, another example exhibited

Florence, Galleria dell' Accademia, Arte torna Arte - La contemporaneita e le sue radici, 2012, another example exhibited



Hans Belting, Walter Grasskamp and Claudia Seidel, Thomas Struth: Museum Photographs, Munich 2005, p. 85 and p. 107, illustration of another example in colour

Catalogue Note

One of a group of exceptional German photographers to emerge from Bernd and Hilla Becher’s influential photography class at the Dusseldorf Academy in the late 1970s, Thomas Struth has been instrumental in the solidification of photography as a defining genre in contemporary art. Part of the artist’s most renowned series of Museum Photographs, first initiated in 1989, Alte Pinakothek, Self-Portrait is a remarkable example of Struth’s unique cultural enquiry. Depicting Struth himself standing in front of Albrecht Dürer’s self-portrait from 1500 the present work is the only photograph within the artist’s oeuvre to include his own likeness. Testament to the work’s unique position within Struth’s exceptional practice, further works in the edition reside in the permanent collection of both the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid.

After experiencing the cultural magnificence of Italy’s masterpieces in Naples and Rome in the late 1980s, the artist felt a pressing desire to explore the relationship between people and their cultural heritage within the setting of the great museums and churches of Western history. The series of museum photographs, herein created, evoke a multitude of interpretations. As Hans Belting points out, when pursuing the most famous works of art history, Struth could be seen to have been “investigating the relationship between photography and painting” (Hans Belting, Thomas Struth: Museum Photographs, Munich 1998, n.p.).  Furthermore, by depicting groups of tourists or a frenzy of school children swarming into museums and churches across the globe, Struth portrays the effects of fast-paced consumerism of our contemporary society on museums and their masterpieces.  However, first and foremost, these unique cultural investigations are a meditation on the function of centuries old art in a secular world and how contemporary audiences engage with these masterpieces as a means of interlacing with history.

Unlike other works from the Museum series, in which it is the museum visitors and not the paintings that first enter the spectator’s vision, the artwork itself is the focal point of Alte Pinakothek, Self-Portrait. Reduced to an anonymous viewer, Struth has placed himself at the periphery of the composition. Slightly out of focus, only his left shoulder and a glimpse of his jawline are visible. In contrast, Dürer’s self-portrait is in crisp focus, starring back at the viewer like a sitter in one of Struth’s portraits.  It is with subdued contemplation that Struth seems to engage with the iconic work of art, a considered engagement with history, which one struggles to find in our consumer driven contemporary society. Paying respect to an artist, instrumental in the cultural development of his native country, he establishes a profound dialogue across the chasm of history.

In the landmark exhibition at the Prado Museum in 2007, Struth was given the opportunity to further explore this unique relationship between the past and the present. Hanging his photographs alongside the museum's own works he placed Alte Pinakothek, Self-Portrait beside Dürer's masterpiece. Evoking not only the consideration of how Dürer's work is viewed within the institutional environment, this placement allowed for a more complex dialectic between the two remarkable artworks.