In line with the tradition in which he works, Struth’s methodological principles are ‘systematicity in the collection of images and adherence to an apparently neutral and objective position of non-interference, which simulates the programmatic absence of an auteur’s subjective camera [...]. But perhaps it is more significant that his work shares with this tradition the logic of the archive and the catalogue, and the positivist promise it holds: the achievable totality of examination.’
In 1976 Thomas Struth began work on a series of photographs of streets, part of which was published in his first book Unconscious Places (Kunsthalle, Berne, 1987). Driven by the discipline of the typological method, Struth travelled to the major capitals of Europe, America and Japan to photographically capture the contemporary appearance of cities. The historical sense of his work is reflected in the way he handles the superposition of buildings and technological urban elements, which generate an accumulation of historical strata in a process analogous to geological evolution. Struth adopts an almost scientific position in his analytical systematicity and sense of comparative study, though behaving at the same time like a tourist or flâneur. His street images evoke the work of Eugène Atget, who in the early twentieth century documented the façades and details of an old Paris that would soon disappear. Struth’s photographic activity has continued to focus on the street to the present day. He dedicated particular attention to the subject up until 1987, when he began a series of portraits he is still working on today. His images have evolved to include the use of colour and larger formats, and have become more sophisticated.
Along with streets and portraits, and in adherence to rigid typological discipline, Struth’s work revolves around a very limited number of subjects. Between 1989 and 1995, he produced a series of images of museum visitors. The link between the images of people (the portraits and images of museum visitors) and the street photos lies in the photographer’s attention to the forms of modern urban life, in both its private aspects (the portraits) and its public dimension (the museums). Since 1991 he has been working on a series of landscapes, and between 1991 and 1993 the project led him to take a series of photos of plants that constitute a kind of botanical pseudo–study.