new-york

Thomas Struth

Marian Goodman Gallery | New York

The two categories of social portraiture Thomas Struth presents—family and museum portraits—both constitute brilliant studies of the tension between false, compliant self, and true, bodily self, between conventional and individuated self that exists in every person. In contrast to the families in the portraits, the subjects in the museum pictures are not posed; they seem to be caught off guard. If the family portraits are academically inclined psychosocial studies, in the tradition of Degas’ almost clinical examination of the Bellelli Family, the museum scenes are reminiscent of the same artist’s depictions of public life at the theater and the racetrack.

There seems to be a relationship of antithesis between categories. In the family portraits the camera invades private space; in the museum portraits it positions itself omnisciently in a public space, dominating the scene, often from above.

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