Private Collection, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
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
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.
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