The Richter Family 1, Cologne


Thomas Struth ( German, 1954 )

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General Description

To make his family portraits, Thomas Struth lets the sitters arrange themselves in their home. Standing beside the camera, Struth issues one instruction: look at the lens. He then waits for the instant in which every family member is vibrantly present. This portrait is of the renowned German artist, Gerhard Richter, and his family. Struth was once a student of Richter at the Düsseldorf Academy of Fine Arts, and it was Richter who encouraged Struth's pursuit of photography. Struth presents his former teacher and his family in a seemingly simple way that radiates its penetration the further one gazes at these mysterious, serious, yet ultimately, very human faces. Richter's gaze has all the intensity one would expect from this major figure as he stares down the viewer in a way that becomes nearly unsettling. On his knee sits Richter's son, while on the right side of the composition are pictured Richter's wife and daughter, all of whom similarly fixate their eyes on the camera lens. In capturing the psychology of one of our era's most important artists and his family, Struth creates a work that illuminates and defers understanding of Richter by providing information with which our own powers of analysis must contend.

Adapted from

  • Charles Wylie, DMA unpublished material, 2002.

  • Anna Katherine Brodbeck, ed., TWO X TWO X TWENTY: Two Decades Supporting Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art), 2018.

  • DMA label copy, n.d.

Fun Facts

  • "My own work is...about families and couples: what their relations, their roles, their history might be; what the encounter between the artist and those portrayed was like on this very day." -Thomas Struth