PRINT February 2019


Thomas Struth, Stellarator Wendelstein 7-X Detail, Max Planck IPP, Greifswald, 2009, C-print, 62 1⁄2 × 81 7⁄8".

WHILE NO ONE who has spent time looking at Thomas Struth’s photographs would be surprised to learn that he studied painting (he was a student of Gerhard Richter’s at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf), his Stellarator Wendelstein 7-X Detail, Max Planck IPP, Greifswald, 2009, appears almost as if intended to advertise this fact. The image presents the Stellarator as a spatially disorienting tangle of cables, pipes, and ducts that resembles nothing so much as a Jackson Pollock. In subtly mimicking the earlier artist’s intricate compositions, Struth’s photograph invites us to see its titular device as equally a work of sublime human ingenuity and organizational intelligence, one whose singular meaning, like that of Pollock’s best paintings, is contained in the impeccably woven thicket of its individual parts. Yet just as Pollock’s canvases are most forceful in their testament to the

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