Guggenheim

Since fall 2016, Thomas Struth has been working on a group of still lifes of dead animals that were taken to the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin after dying of natural causes. These striking new works, precise and sensitively rendered, represent the artist’s pictorial stance in a surprising new manner. They draw on a range of precedents, from Struth’s recent photographs of medical settings to the history of memento mori. In presenting specimens of earthly mortality, Struth touches on the dignity of life itself, our humanist tradition, and evolutionary questions: “I tried to depict the animals in a beautiful, dignified fashion. I’m interested in the idea of surrender: once you die, all the circus that you proactively create, the theater, comes to a full stop. These pictures should be like punches, the memento of death as a wake-up call.”