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A Stark Contrast

Thomas Struth (German, b. 1954). The Restorers at San Lorenzo Maggiore, Naples, 1988. Chromogenic print. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Vital Projects Fund Inc. Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel; Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts; Jennifer Saul Gift; Gift of Dr. Mortimer D. Sackler, Theresa Sackler and Family; and Gary and Sarah Wolkowitz Gift, 2010 (2010.121) © Thomas Struth

This photograph is titled The Restorers at San Lorenzo Maggiore, Naples and is by Thomas Struth. In this scene, four art restorers stand in a large room that was formerly part of a church. All four are focused intently on the camera, and each stands in a unique pose. The central focus of the photograph is on the restorers, and the rest of the picture is slightly blurry.

I think this photograph is eerie and surreal because the subjects almost seem to jump out of the photograph and the lighting looks unnatural. The light-colored walls and floor contribute to the photograph's strange lighting. I am interested in the way the photographer juxtaposes the contemporary figures with artwork that has existed for centuries. In doing this, he creates a stark contrast between the past and the present.

The restorers in the picture seem relaxed and natural. In fact, Doug Eklund, the curator of Spies in the House of Art, told us that the photographer did not decide their poses; rather, he let them place themselves in the image where and how they saw fit. Struth developed relationships with the people that he photographed and collaborated with them to create his work. This particular photograph presents an interesting scene that draws viewers in and makes them consider the surreal world the artist has captured.


Imagine that you are the subject of this photograph. How would you be posed?

We welcome your response to this question below.

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