It's Not Art until Someone Sees It

By Strickland, Carol | The Christian Science Monitor, February 7, 2003 | Go to article overview

It's Not Art until Someone Sees It


Strickland, Carol, The Christian Science Monitor


German photographer Thomas Struth started his career not as an artist, but as an art teacher.

In his retrospective "Thomas Struth," at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through May 18, he teaches us how to view the world through active, not passive, perception.

The theme is made explicit on first entering the museum, where gigantic video portraits, 14 feet high and 24 feet across, of Struth's friends are projected on walls of the Great Hall. Staring straight at the viewer, the subjects make explicit the act of looking.

"Struth's concept," according to co- curator Douglas Eklund, "is that the viewer completes the meaning of a work" by participating in creating its meaning.

Seventy photographs, many mural-sized, demonstrate why Struth is a major figure in contemporary art.

As a pupil of German photographers Bernd and Hilla Becker, Struth trained in Dusseldorf, where he still lives. Along with other Becker disciples, like Andreas Gursky and Thomas Ruff, Struth brought the large-scale color photograph from a marginal position in 1970s art to the forefront of contemporary art.

Not content to shape today's art, Struth has made reviving art history a personal crusade. His signature images are scenes of art pilgrims visiting museums and cultural sites all over the world.

His "aim is to unleash the power of paintings," Eklund says. Struth believes "art can transcend all of history's cataclysms," Eklund continues. But past masterpieces must not be considered "fetish objects you kneel down before."

Instead, they are works to grapple with now. "There's a restorative aspect to [Struth's] work," Eklund says. "His pictures are about rehabilitating or cleansing our vision."

A shot of the interior of San Zaccaria Church in Venice shows walls covered with Biblical frescoes by Bellini. The painted figures look just as alive as the tourists studying them. The photo's large scale reveals details with pristine clarity and gives a sense of cohabiting in the space.

His image of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris gives viewers a "you are there" immediacy. Carved stone prophets and apostles ascend the facade, as lines of tourists stream into the church. Past and present, sacred and secular, merge and diverge.

His famous photograph of visitors observing Caillebotte's "Paris, Rainy Day" in the Art Institute of Chicago (where the exhibition makes a final stop in June) illustrates the interchange between viewer and viewed. The strolling figures in the painting gaze at each other, while visitors to the Art Institute gaze at them. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

It's Not Art until Someone Sees It
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.