Galerie Max Hetzler, London presents an exhibition dedicated to new works by Thomas Struth (b. 1954). This marks the artist’s first solo exhibition in the London gallery and the first time his renowned photographs taken at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research, are shown in the UK.
Struth’s renditions of CERN form part of Nature and Politics (2007 -), a group of work that examines how ambition and human imagination become sculptural, spatial reality. As part of this investigation, the artist started studying the site’s complex environments in 2019. Home to the world’s largest scientific facility, CERN carries out research into the origins of the universe with the help of particle accelerators. Part of this new body of work are photographs of building 887, the largest space at CERN also known as Experimental Hall North 1. Accommodating numerous experiments under one roof, the location caught the artist’s interest during his most recent visits. Filled with hundreds of concrete shielding blocks, the 330 metre long structure hosts over sixty detectors and scientific experiments which lay mostly hidden within endless structures of concrete bars, cable trays, and fences. In the exhibition, three monumental panoramic photographs are shown alongside smaller works depicting leftover materials found in inconspicuous recycling containers. Scattered around the CERN site, these accumulations devoid of any clear purpose stand in contrast with the precision informing the scientific experiments.
Attesting to Struth’s deep interest in the philosophical questions and the political dimensions of scientific progress, the CERN works constitute an on-going enquiry into the pictorial possibilities offered by advanced technology. Juxtaposing science and photography, the artist dissects the claim to objectivity and truth both realms seem to share. Appearing deserted, almost sterile at first glance, the staged emptiness of the CERN halls is in fact permeated by human presence. Forging a central tenet of Struth’s practice, the artist examines the distinctions between presence and absence, nature and culture, human and machine.
Thomas Struth (b. 1954, Geldern) lives and works in Berlin. Struth has exhibited his work at Galerie Max Hetzler on a regular basis since 1987. Most recently, major retrospectives of the artist’s work were held at the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao (2019) and the Haus der Kunst, Munich (2017). In 2016, his comprehensive solo exhibition Nature & Politics opened at the Museum Folkwang, Essen, before being presented at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, the High Museum, Atlanta, the Moody Center for the Arts, Houston, and finally the Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri. Other major solo exhibitions have taken place at international institutions including MAST Foundation, Bologna (2019); Aspen Art Museum (2018); Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2014 and 2003); Kunsthaus Zürich; Museu Serralves, Porto and K20, Düsseldorf (all 2011); Museo del Prado, Madrid (2007); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2003); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Dallas Museum of Art (2002).
Thomas Struth’s works are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate, London; Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Art Institute of Chicago; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; Kunsthaus Zürich; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the Dallas Museum of Art, among others.
2 June – 29 July 2023
Galerie Max Hetzler
First Floor, 41 Dover Street
London W1S 4NS
London Gallery Weekend
2-4 June 2023