Initially interested in painting, Thomas Struth turned his attention to photography in 1976 during hi studies at the Düsselforf Academy.
Two years later, he was awarded the Kunstakamemies’s first scholarship to New York where he produced a series of black and white cityscapes.
These views taken from the centre of various streets, offering vast perspectives punctuated by a seemingly endless rhythm of architectural facades. Struth’s realistic cityscapes silence the chaos traditionally associated with urban life and cities.
His work is often compared to that of the French photographer Eugene Atget. His first solo exhibition was at P.S. 1 in New York in 1978. He produced similar series about Paris in 1979, Rome in 1984, Edinburgh in 1986 and many more.
In the mid 80s, Struth began a series of colour and black and white portraits of individuals and family groups. This series grew out of an earlier but never completed collaborative project with psychoanalyst Ingo Hartmann. This series explored the personal and cultural dynamics that is associated with how we see ourselves and others as well as how our individual and collective identities condition such as perceptions.
As a result of his portrait work, Struth developed an interest in Renaissance paintings which gave life to his best known series “The Museum Photographs”. Struth captured anonymous individuals and crowds looking at iconic works of western art in the world’s most popular museums. Louvre IV, Paris and National Gallery, London in 1989, Perganon Museum III, Berlin in 2001 and Museo del Padro XII, Madrid in 2005.
Paying attention to architectural details and surroundings as to people and objects, he emphasised museum going as a complex ritual of seing and being seen, one in which the museum itself functions as both custodian and broker of cultural capital.
Since the early 90s, he has expanded his portfolio to include natural landscape, nature studies celebrated architectural monuments and Chinese cityscapes.
In 1997, he was awarded the Spectrum International Photography Prize of Lower Saxony.