#PhotoCollection : Tulipe de Thomas Struth
Thomas Struth is a key figure in contemporary photography. Trained in painting by Gerhard Richter, he then attended the photography courses of the minimalist and conceptual couple Bernd and Hilla Becher at the Düsseldorf School of Photography. The influence of the Becher family would leave its mark on their students such as Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff, Candida Höfer and of course Thomas Struth. The latter is one of the most famous representatives of this current. Through works that are often of a traditional and serial nature, he reveals deeper concepts than they seem at first glance.
In 1990, Dieter Schwarz, then director of the Kunstmuseum Winterthur, asked Thomas Struth to take photographs for the patients’ rooms in the new wing of the Spital am Lindberg, a private hospital. After an introductory visit, Struth accepts this order. Although the hospital team imagined street photographs, typical of her work at that time and able to take patients out of their daily environment, Struth decided to focus on subjects that could represent weaknesses, like patients. By representing minimalist landscapes or intense still lifes, Struth brings a different interpretation of the simple biological study of plants and humanizes them, whose bright colours appear to be alerting.
“IN THE HOSPITAL, THE BODY IS IN A HIGH STATE, EVEN IN AN ALARM STATE. IT LED ME TO CHOOSE AN APPROACH IN WHICH A PARTICULAR DETAIL OF EACH FLOWER WOULD BE HIGHLIGHTED, BY ANALOGY WITH THE STATE OF THE DISEASE, IN WHICH A PART OF THE BODY OF WHICH WE ARE GENERALLY UNAWARE BECOMES THE FOCUS OF ATTENTION.”
This work was carried out in the Winterthur region as well as the entire series. Struth travelled through the Thur Valley, the surrounding vineyards and farmland, as well as the hospital’s green spaces. Many of the plants and flowers he photographed were also found in the immediate vicinity of the hospital and in a garden on the grounds of the Oskar Reinhart collection. Several flower portraits come from her friends Ingo Hartmann and Hannah Erdrich-Hartmann in Düsseldorf, clematis, tulips, roses, cherry blossoms and dandelions
Thomas Struth points out that the project has allowed a different and more pictorial approach to photography. He experiments with partially off-field or blurred images and a bright colour range. Close-ups of cherry blossoms, vines on a wall, clusters of sunflowers and inside woods and forests lead us to the larger and more exotic environments of New Pictures from Paradise which he realized later in 1998.
In each of the 37 rooms of the hospital, Struth hung a landscape in front of the patient’s bed and two photographs of plants and flowers behind it. These same prints have left their context to be included in Thomas Struth’s travelling exhibitions. The book Dandelion Room, published in 2001, brings together all of Winterthur’s work.
The artist is now represented by the largest contemporary art galleries such as Marian Goodman Gallery, Max Heztler and has already been the subject of numerous retrospectives in museums of international stature. His work is highly sought-after at auctions and recently fought for record amounts of money last March in London.
EINZELNE DUNKELROTE TULPE, DÜSSELDORF,1993
Chromogenic printing, edition: 7/10, Image size: 84 x 67 cm
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