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  1. #1
    SrdjanMatejic's Avatar
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    Now just HOW is Thomas Struth an artist?

    Kunsthaus Zürich:

    http://www.kunsthaus.ch/en/exhibitio...thomas-struth/

    It says:

    "Working in an age characterized by an overload of highly reworked and mediated imagery, Struth has invested photography with renewed intensity and integrity."



    Now, i will probably sound negative, so if you are a fan of his work, i'm sorry.

    I have spent 2h looking at his photographs, and i just couldn't understnad where the "intensity and integrity" are hidden in his pictures.

    I was looking and looking, and questioning my understanding of photography and art, but still, all i could see were snapshots, big prints, no ideas.

    How did this guy become "famous", one of the "top 3" of our times?
    His work is so... pointles?



    What am I missing here?! It really bugs me...

  2. #2

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    Some ones going to say it, so I want to head them off. I have spent many hours looking at work I don't understand or like trying to figure it out. I think that is a good thing to do. So lets skip the posts about srdjanMatejic spending 2 hours looking at stuff he doesn't like :P

    Working in an age characterized by an overload of highly reworked and mediated imagery, Struth has invested photography with renewed intensity and integrity."
    First off, I think artist's statements from the artist are worth 1000x more than from a critic. Not always true, but hearing the artist talk about what they were trying to convey is more illuminating to me.

    I am attracted to his compositions, use of color and generally subject matter. I like how he has the people in his Museum and Viewers series positioned, and I really enjoy the idea of people looking at people looking at artwork. Its just great.

    I do not get the same immediate satisfaction from his Families and Paradise series. The dislike for Families is a personal bias: I don't care much for environmental portraits, or portraits in general. Paradise might be really cool when seen in person as a series. Many works are i'll suited for digital reproduction on the internet. I like how crowed the frame is, and the dynamic lines caused by the plants, but it doesn't click. However, I have a feeling that I would enjoy this series in person a lot more.

  3. #3

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    "Artist" has (at least) two meanings in this discussion. One is "someone working creatively", which applies to many people, including children. The other is "someone who's creativity has a larger significance."

    Who decides if someone working creatively is the latter, an upper-case Artist? Galleries, agents, and collectors try to promote their artists as Artists since they will make more money. Critics try to find artists they can recognize as Artists since it will make the critic a famous Critic.

    Ultimately, time will sort the upper from the lower case. But in the meantime, Thomas Struth has managed to get some people to take his work seriously. Wether it's because of the quality of the images, the words he writes, or who he has slept with (a route taken by many artists in many fields), he's scratched his way into the larger discussion. I don't like his stuff and I wouldn't spend any more time looking at it than absolutely necessary, but I respect him for managing to get it out there.

  4. #4
    SrdjanMatejic's Avatar
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    Well, I went there hoping his photographs would look beeter in real life than on the net, and they didn't.

    In the same museum, they have a Jeff Wall photograph, also an environmental portrait, this one here.
    Even if i wouldn't know any other wokr from Wall, I could understand why it is hanging there in the museum.
    But I honestly don't get why Struth gets all the buzz.


    I fear it is the concept here that critics see, but not the effective content, which in my opinion is very mediocre.

  5. #5

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    yeah I looked at his stuff and wasn't wowed...

  6. #6
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    You need to look as Struth's work in context as a whole exhibition/piece of work, and it helps to know how it fits with the work of other disciples of the Becher's, it's a school of mainly German photography that draws heavily on discipline and structure.

    Ian

  7. #7
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    It's big and it's color. A surefire ticket to the international art photography museum/gallery/auction circuit. Especially the big part.
    Jim

  8. #8
    lns
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    Oh goodness. I guess you either like stuff or you don't. I love Thomas Struth. I was struck by the first work I saw, and the more I see, the more I appreciate him. I think he's great. I especially like his portrait work and his families work that others here criticize. I respond strongly to minimalism, and I suppose that has a lot to do with it.

    It seems there are many people on this thread who disregard or actively dislike his work. Perhaps it just doesn't speak to you. I can think of reams of work, a lot of artists, and more than a few entire genres, that don't speak to me. Each to his or her taste. I don't want to criticize them. I'd rather spend time on the work I like.

    As to Jeff Wall, well it's interesting that you say you've seen one piece and can understand why he's hanging in a museum. But to learn about Jeff Wall and his work would enrich your understanding enormously. First, as you probably know, that's not an environmental portrait. Jeff Wall conceptualizes and stages his work in very elaborate and time-consuming fashion, with a central idea often inspired by other work. And he presents it in a unique and attention-getting way -- giant light boxes, each a one-off piece selling for $1 million, it's rumored. He's a force and has influenced contemporary art, no question.

    It seems that perhaps you like more elaborate work than that of Thomas Struth. But that doesn't make Thomas Struth "mediocre." That doesn't make his work "snapshots." Much of which was done with a large format camera, by the way. As for having "no ideas" -- perhaps some can't see his ideas because the ideas of the Dusseldorf School have become incorporated by now into our general notion of photography and art. That shows, more than anything else, at least in my mind, how successful he has been.

    -Laura

  9. #9

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    I think a lot of people feel, as viewers, that whatever the artist chooses to reify as "A Work" should be able to convey its intended ideas while standing alone. In other words, if the "granularity" of Struth's work is intended to be the single image (as vs. the folio or book or installation or whatever), then there is some perception of a "right" to be able to look at the single image and understand what it's saying, without needing a lot of subsumed background information to make it make sense.

    I'm not saying that's a right or a wrong way of viewing---I don't think there is such a thing---but I think maybe that's the unstated assumption of a lot of people who think that Struth's photos "look like snapshots". (One hears similar objections to Nan Goldin, some abstract painters, &c., for I think the same reason.)

    I'm not sure how Struth would prefer that his work be viewed, but it's certainly true that some photographs just don't fly by themselves---they have to be seen as part of a series, or in the context of a certain knowledge of the work's intellectual background, or whatever. You might argue that it's sort of unfair to the image to try to evaluate such a photograph in isolation.

    Just a vague scatter of thoughts. I don't know Struth's work well and don't have a strong reaction to the bit of it I've seen---it seems technically fine, it doesn't really push my buttons aesthetically, and I don't know the backstory to determine what I'm supposed to get out of it intellectually, but it doesn't immediately make me say "this is obviously vacuous".

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  10. #10
    c6h6o3's Avatar
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    Struth is ok. Although, of all the Becher proteges, I like Andreas Gursky the most. He is definitely an artist. Thomas Ruff is good, too. It's the adulation of the Bechers that I can't understand. I don't consider their work art. It's documentary illustration. Finely crafted, masterfully done illustration, but not art to me.
    Jim

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