Press Release: Thomas Struth

18 May 2012

From 17 May until 20 January 2013
Room 32
Admission free

A new display at the National Portrait Gallery focuses on family portraits by the distinguished German photographer, Thomas Struth. The three portraits on display, exploring human relationships, complement Struth’s recently commissioned royal portrait which features in the new exhibition, The Queen: Art and Image.

The three portraits on display are The Hirose Family, Hiroshima, 1987; The Bernstein Family, Mündersbach, 1990; and The Smith Family, Fife, 1989. Each group spans three generations with age being the significant aspect of the relationships between individuals.  As with his usual practice in relation to portraits, Struth’s only rule in taking the family photographs was that each person should look into the camera. His interest in photographing families relates to his own early experience of family albums.  The photographs contained in albums form a compendium of information about individuals and their place within a genetically connected group. Struth’s family photographs explore the idea of connectedness, a context in which a person’s appearance, personality and psychology are formed. Characteristically, Struth’s sitters arrange themselves. The resulting images invite the viewer to contemplate the nature of the relationships depicted. 

The display complements the new portrait photograph of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh which was commissioned by the Gallery to mark the forthcoming Diamond Jubilee. The portrait was unveiled as part of the touring exhibition The Queen: Art and Image which is on display until 21 October at the Gallery. This large-scale portrait shows The Queen and Prince Philip seated together in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle and was taken on 7 April 2011.

Born in 1954, Struth studied at Dusseldorf Academy (1973-80) where his teachers included the painter Gerhard Richter and the photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher. His engagement with photography dates from 1976. Working at first in black and white and subsequently in colour, Struth’s mature style is characterised by formal precision and an approach that is essentially straightforward, avoiding narrative or artificial effects. His principal motifs include buildings, street scenes, visitors to churches and museums, landscapes, nature studies and portraits.  He recently had a major travelling retrospective in the USA travelled to venues including the Dallas Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. In 2011 the Whitechapel Gallery, London also held a major retrospective of his work as part of a European Tour

Thomas Struth is part of the Gallery’s ongoing Interventions series of displays curated by Paul Moorhouse, which commenced in 2006 with Andy Warhol: 10 Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century. Drawing on significant works loaned to the Gallery, the series focuses on important 20th-century artists who have extended portraiture in innovative ways. To date, the Interventions series has included Bridget Riley: from Life, John Gibbons: Portraits, Frank Auerbach: Four Portraits of Catherine Lampert, Anthony Caro: Portraits; and Tony Bevan – Self Portraits 

Paul Moorhouse, 20th Century Curator of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘Thomas Struth is one of the world’s leading photographers.  We are delighted to be devoting this display to his portraits of families, and at the same time to be showing his new portrait of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.  This is a unique opportunity to view his work in terms of human relationships.’



From 17 May to 21 October 2012
Sponsored by KPMG

To mark The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, the National Portrait Gallery will stage an innovative touring exhibition bringing together 58 of the most remarkable and resonant images of Elizabeth II spanning the 60 years of her reign - some on public display for the first time. The Queen: Art and Image has toured to National Gallery Complex, Edinburgh, National Museums Northern Ireland, Belfast and National Museum Cardiff before being shown in London, London in 2012.  From Beaton and Leibovitz to Annigoni and Warhol, The Queen: Art and Image will be the most wide-ranging exhibition of images in different media devoted to a single royal sitter. Formal painted portraits, official photographs, media pictures, and powerful responses by contemporary artists will be shown in an exhibition which explores both traditional representations and works which extend the visual language of royal portraiture.  

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For further press information and image requests please contact: Neil Evans, Press Office, National Portrait Gallery Tel: 020 7312 2452 (not for publication) Email:

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National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place WC2H 0HE, opening hours Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: 10am – 6pm (Gallery closure commences at 5.50pm) Late Opening: Thursday, Friday 10am – 9pm  (Gallery closure commences at 8.50pm) In addition Lucian Freud Portraits also 6pm-9pm Saturdays 24 Mar-19 May Nearest Underground: Leicester Square/Charing Cross General information: 0207 306 0055  Recorded information: 020 7312 2463  Website/Tickets: 

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