Thomas Struth

Carré d’Art / Musée d’Art Contemporain

At the entrance to the Carre d’Art, site through mid June of the first large-scale exhibition devoted to Thomas Struth’s work in Europe, two oversize photographs face one another: an exterior shot of the Buddhist monastery of Todai-Ji in Nara, Japan, and an interior view of the Pantheon. These international tourist destinations were also originally places of worship, so it’s not unexpected to see these images, among seventy-eight other works by Struth, displayed here, a few yards from the Maison Carrée—a Roman temple from the beginning of the Christian era now transformed, naturally, into a museum. Should we see an allegorical agenda in this subtle play of echoes? But if so, an agenda of what? Of the photographer’s work? The spectator’s vision, of contemplation? Perhaps both.

Consider the counterpoint instituted, so to speak, between these two images. The outside shot of Todai-Ji evokes

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