About This Artwork

Thomas Struth
German, born 1954

Art Institute of Chicago II, Chicago, 1990

Chromogenic print mounted to acrylic, edition number three of ten
184.1 x 219 cm (72 1/2 x 86 in.), framed

Restricted gift of Susan and Lewis Manilow, 1991.28

As a student of the renowned photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in the 1970s, Thomas Struth absorbed their objective, methodical style of making pictures, often emphasizing the camera’s single-point perspective. To his varied subject matter—city streets, rainforests, family portraits—Struth brings an acute awareness of the act of observation. His use of depth of field allows him to lead the viewer’s eye to certain details and gloss over other ones.

Struth’s celebrated Museum Photographs series is composed of monumental images of museum visitors in various stages of observation, captivation, and even distraction. As part of this series, Art Institute of Chicago II depicts a woman pushing a stroller facing Gustave Caillebotte’s famous Paris Street; Rainy Day, while another woman reads the label. The women’s clothing harmonizes remarkably with the palette of the painting, and the gallery’s marble floor seems transformed into a continuation of the wet cobblestones rendered so believably by Caillebotte’s paintbrush. As historian Hans Belting concluded of this work, “One no longer knows what is inside the painting and what is in front of it. . . . We feel like rubbing our eyes when the space in front of the painting transforms itself into a picture that is not separated from the painting.”

— Entry, Essential Guide, 2009, p. 286.

Interpretive Resources

View mobile website