Paradise, Thomas Struth's photography

Thomas Struth Paradise

Paradise 01, Daintree, Austra, 1998.

Paradise 04, Daintree, Australia, 1998.

Paradise 12, Xi Shuang Banna prov. Yunnan, China, 1998.

Paradise 15, Yakushima, Japan, 1999.

Paradise 09, Xi Shuang Banna prov. Yunnan, China, 1999.

Paradise 19, Baverischer Wald, Germany, 1999.

Paradise 09, Sao de Francisco de Xavier, Brazil, 2001.

Paradise 24, Sao de Francisco de Xavier, Brazil, 2001.

Paradise 34, The Big Island, Hawai’ian Islands, 2006.

Artist's Statement

The Paradise series rejects the usual image of ‘paradise’ as a utopian garden, immaculate and enclosed behind walls. Instead, this paradise is the wilderness of the jungle which appears as the result of unchecked and untamed growth, representing a small section of a broad network extending beyond our view.

Unlike the cityscapes in my previous works, these jungle scenes offer up no sense of perspective or depth. The photos do not rely on the same ordering principles found in the images of urban architecture. However, the expansiveness of each portion of jungle with which we are presented invokes a comprehensive system of growth that could possibly continue ad infinitum.

The sheer clutter of detail in these images presents a kind of empty space: emptied to elicit a stillness and internal dialogue. You have to be able to enjoy this silence in order to communicate with yourself – and eventually with others. The critic Hans Rudolf Ruest says of the Paradise series: Struth’s photographs seem to extend and intensify this concrete presence in order to trigger the viewer’s transit. Paradise has always been the fictive point of departure for a transformed view of the world. Changed, we grow toward ourselves – and each other – out of the picture’s jungle.

About the photographer


1954, Geldern, Germany



Based in

Berlin and New York

Thomas Struth is one of those artists credited with establishing photography as a major medium in contemporary art. Struth studied under Gerhard Richter and Bernd Becher at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (1973–1980), moving from painting to photography and thus becoming part of a new generation of photographers. He won a scholarship to work at P.S.1 in New York in 1978.

His early work consisted of black-and-white studies of deserted streets and bird’s-eye views of cities such as Düsseldorf, Berlin, Paris, London and New York. He then turned to colour, including peopled street scenes in the Far East as well as flowers, deserts and primaeval forests. His Paradise series consists of photographs taken in the jungles of Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Hawaii and Japan. His images contain a wealth of delicately branched information, which makes it almost impossible to isolate single forms.

Since his first exhibitions in New York and Bonn, Struth has taken part in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the world. During 2010, his work has been shown in group exhibitions in Munich, Amsterdam, Oslo, Paris, Madrid, Dallas, Düsseldorf, Luxemburg, Emden, Essen and Bedburg-Hau. In addition, he has had solo exhibitions in Zurich, Bochum, Berlin, Seoul and New York.

His work is held in the collections of the world’s leading museums and galleries including Tate, London, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, Kunstmuseum Bonn and Leeum – Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul.

In 1997, Thomas Struth was awarded the Spectrum International Prize for Photography.