Photographer Thomas Struth has for the last 20 years been collecting images of museum goers viewing art. He captures most of his images so that the piece of artwork that is being displayed is obscured from the camera’s view. All you are left with is the reactions of the viewer to the art that you (as a viewer of Struth’s art) can not see. His image Hermitage 1, St. Petersburg with patrons viewing a work by Leonardo can be seen above. Struth printed these large photographs for his latest exhibition “Making Time” at the Marian Goodman Gallery in New York. Full write up by Michael Kimmelman for the New York Times.
Thomas Struth’s show at Marian Goodman — rapturous, magisterial photographs of museum visitors standing before Velázquez in Madrid and looking at Leonardo at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg — culminates one of the memorable art projects of the last 20 years or so. For nearly that long, Mr. Struth has been making these pictures of people in museums. They’re looking at art, although you might say the real question is what they, and we, are seeing.
The beauty of these pictures is almost a given by now. This current show forms a coda to one lately at the Prado, where Mr. Struth insinuated a dozen or more, some nearly life-size, photographs among the paintings and sculptures. It took some gall and guile. Come upon irregularly and unexpectedly, his pictures punctuated galleries of nearly unrelenting greatness.
Sometimes they intruded. Occasionally, they seemed irrelevant. Mostly they were jarring. I found myself later recalling photographs I had thought forgettable at the time, in the way you may recall somebody you just glimpsed at a museum more vividly than the art.