AboutLife-sized images of tourists enraptured by art, intimate family portraits, epic panoramas of colossal technology projects and quiet pictures of empty streets, are all in the first UK survey of German artist Thomas Struth, one of the most important photographers of the late 20th century.
Picturing subjects as diverse as places of worship, jungles and research laboratories, Struth once compared the space shuttle programme to the construction of the medieval cathedrals. His photographs reveal the cultural, psychological and historical undercurrents beneath the surface of modernity.
Tracing the architectural history of ordinary city streets Struth also charts the increasing uniformity of global development. While people are absent from his street scenes of Düsseldorf, Naples or New York, they take centre stage in his family portraits and his iconic museum photographs showing spectators lost in devotional gaze before works of art and architecture. In sharp contrast, his Paradise series captures impenetrable forests void of any trace of human intervention.
This exhibition spans early black and white prints to recent colour photographs that are up to 4 metres long. These include images of sites at the cutting edge of technology such as the Space Centre on Cape Canaveral. Their overwhelming scale evokes an industrial sublime; built by us, yet chillingly inhuman, these structures encapsulate the great contradictions of progress.
A film combining rare footage of Struth on location and working in the studio provides an insightful portrait of this pioneering artist.