Thomas Struth (B. 1954)
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Thomas Struth (B. 1954)

El Capitan, Yosemite National Park

Thomas Struth (B. 1954)
El Capitan, Yosemite National Park
signed and numbered 'Thomas Struth 9/10' (on a label affixed to the reverse)
chromogenic print face-mounted to Plexiglas in artist's frame
image: 66½ x 85in. (169 x 216.2cm.)
overall: 71 5/8 x 89¾in. (181.8 x 228cm.)
Executed in 1999, this work is number nine from an edition of ten
Galleria Monica de Cardenas, Milan.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2003.
A. Kruszynski, T. Bezzola and J. Lingwood (eds.), Thomas Struth: Photographs 1978-2010, 2010 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, pp. 92, 175 and 205).
Hamburg, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Auto Werke, 2000-2001.
Berlin, Galerie Max Hetzler, Thomas Struth, 2001, no. 763 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated, unpaged).
Dallas, Dallas Museum of Art, Thomas Struth: 1977 2002, 2002-2003, pp. 175 and 178 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated in colour, p. 137). This exhibition later travelled to New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art.
Milan, Galleria Monica de Cardenas, Thomas Struth, 2003.
Malaga, Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Malága, Punto de partida, Permanent Collection from CAC Malága, 2003-2005 (another from the edition exhibited).
Malaga, Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Malága, Paisaje Humano. Hogares. Concepto y Sentimiento. Gente, 2005-2008 (another from the edition exhibited).
Leipzig, Museum für Bildende Künste, Motor Blues - Fotografien aus der Schenkung AutoWerke von BMW Financial Services, 2005 (another from the edition exhibited).
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Private/Public, 2007 (another from the edition exhibited).
Gijón, Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, Auto. Dream and Matter, 2009-2010, pp. 219 and 247 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated in colour, p. 218). This exhibition later travelled to Madrid, CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo.
Madrid, Galería Javier López, Paraísos, 2010 (another from the edition exhibited).
Zurich, Kunsthaus Zürich, Thomas Struth: Fotografien 1978-2010, 2010-2012 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated in colour, pp. 92 and 205). This exhibition later travelled to Dusseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K20 Grabbeplatz, London, Whitechapel Gallery and Porto, Museu de Serralves, Museu de Arte Contemporânea.
Bonn, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Through the Looking Brain: A Swiss Collection of Conceptual Photography, 2011-2012, p. 229 (illustrated in colour, pp. 178-179). This exhibition later travelled to St. Gallen, Kunstmuseum St. Gallen.
San Francisco, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco/de Young Museum, Real to Real: Photographs from the Trevor Traina Collection, 2012 (another from the edition exhibited).
London, Somerset House, Landmark: the Fields of Photography, 2013 (another from the edition exhibited).
Mexico City, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Paisaje 1969-2013, 2013 (another from the edition exhibited).
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.


'Travelling through California and Nevada with my brother in 1998, we reached Yosemite National Park and El Capitan one afternoon and discovered its famous steep face from a perfectly angled vista approaching on Northside Drive. In the bright light, the mountain climbers hanging off the face in their hammocks were barely visible, even to the naked eye. The number of people just stopping their cars briefly, on the broadened side of the road, to get out and snap a picture of the granite monolith with their digital cameras was astonishing.
A drive-through natural monument, an example of fast-forward change of time and circumstance, body and imagination, gain and loss, El Capitan appeared as a celebrity monument, a toy, an object to be marked off of the travel list.
In an instant, my impression of the scenery bridged different eras of photography, of travel, imagination and the relationship between body and mind. It's almost as if the subject was more picture than mountain'
(T. Struth, Berlin, 10 September 2010).

Taking the vast rock formation of El Capitan in California's Yosemite National Park as its inspiration, Thomas Struth's El Capitan, Yosemite National Park fits within the artist's ambition to create photographic images that capture how human lives are affected and even controlled by their environment. Presented on a grand scale, the blinding white cliff face of the rock formation dominates the picture plane. Framed by the steady stream of tourist-filled cars dwarfed by the towering boulder, Struth's perspective places the viewer within the image, granting us the same point of view as the onlookers. An iconic image in Struth's oeuvre owing to its bright, captivating vista, El Capitan, Yosemite National Park has been exhibited widely including the artist's retrospective at Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas which later travelled to The Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles and Chicago.

Situated within Struth's celebrated Places of Worship series in the 1990s, his initial inquiry into capturing religious institutions broadened over the decade to include compelling sites of powerful secular significance. Growing out of his seminal photograph Pantheon, 1990, between 1995 and 2003 Struth made an 'extended family' of photographs ranging from Milan Cathedral, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, to the Buddhist temple Tdai-ji, a version of which is in Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, to tourist sites such as El Capitan which incorporated groups of people congregating at places which, in Struth's eyes, offer 'monumental emotional packages of overwhelming experience' (T. Struth, quoted in A. Kruszynski, T. Bezzola, J. Lingwood (eds)., Thomas Struth Photographs 1978 - 2010, New York 2004, p. 204). Rooted in the relationship between image and ideology, El Capitan, Yosemite National Park conveys an awe-inspiring sense of spirituality through its own overwhelming size, the mountain visually and physically dominates both the composition and the people in front it with the same presence as a massive cathedral.

Transforming the tourists into pilgrims, Struth depicts El Capitan as a new kind of secular centre of human interaction offering up a contemporary vision of Divine Providence in the transcendent, primeval formation. Struth's subject is replete with allusions to both contemporary visual culture and American landscape photography, El Capitan having also been the subject of photographs by Carleton Watkins, Eadweard Muybridge, and Ansel Adams each who struggled through epic journeys to arrive at Yosemite to photograph this vista.. Reconceptualised through Struth's lens, El Capitan is depicted as an active centre of human interest and interaction. By focusing on its role as tourist destination, Struth places this monument as the subject of countless holiday photographs. In doing so, Struth does not merely document how places look, nor does he merely reduce the fabric of our urban life to abstraction, but instead, he attempts to grasp and convey some essence of our existence in the cosmopolitan playground of the modern world. By capturing the tourists within the frame, Struth transforms the landscape to the intersection of nature, technology, and culture, the subject of the photograph becoming the larger than the El Capitan itself.

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