Critics’ Picks

Thomas Struth, Mountain, Anaheim, California, 2013, chromogenic print, 80 9/16 x 128 1/8".

Thomas Struth, Mountain, Anaheim, California, 2013, chromogenic print, 80 9/16 x 128 1/8".

New York

Thomas Struth

Marian Goodman Gallery | New York
24 West 57th Street
January 10–February 28, 2014

For his first solo exhibition in the United States in some four years, Thomas Struth debuts a collection of photographs that depicts sites of fantastic technological innovation. Of the fourteen works on view, which include an image of the medical facilities at Charité in Berlin and a lab at Georgia Tech, nearly half were taken at the Anaheim, California, theme park, Disneyland. A choice subject considering Struth’s rebus of late—to depict what the artist describes as “the processes of imagination and fantasy.”

As is typical of the artist’s repertoire, several photographs occupy a gallery wall in its entirety, and the sheer scale of the works grant easy access to the magnitude of captured details. In Measuring, Helmholtz-Zentrum, Berlin, 2012, the laboratory of a Berlin-based research center is rendered in absolute photographic clarity. The crisp legibility of the photograph prompts an attempt to derive function from the lab experiment, but the viewer is ultimately left tangled within the complex visual of electrical cords and foils—a circuitous paradox that underscores the photograph not as a tool for information but for the mind and its wanderings.

Despite the plethora of details found within his images, Struth continues to maintain a disciplined aesthetic restraint, rendering the most chaotic scenes placid—and the images of Disneyland are notably serene. In Mountain, Anaheim, California, 2013, two yellow submarines surface from a lagoon paradise at the foot of the Swiss Matterhorn as a Jetsonsesque monorail glides through the frame’s periphery—a landscape of complete fantasy that has arguably influenced generations. When this work is seen parallel to the other documented sites, a holistic image of the crucial role imagination and fantasy play in progress begins to emerge—or so Struth wagers.