Wednesday, September 18, 2013


"Struth's characterization of Richter did not surprise me. I had seen the portrait of him and his wife and two children that Struth took for The New York Times Magazine in 2002, on the occasion of a Richter retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It is a beautifully composed picture of four people whose bodies are rigid with tension and whose staring faces illustrate different ways of looking hostile. White lilies in a glass vase and a picture of a skull on the wall reinforce the photograph's primal unease. 

I was surprised to hear that Richter and his wife liked the picture. 

"It's a very sad and disturbing picture," I said.

"Okay," Struth said. 

"They do not look like a happy family."

"Well, that's not the issue."

"That almost is the issue of the picture."

Struth conceded that "they don't look relaxed and happy," and added, "He's not an easy person, that's for sure. He's a very particular person."

– from Janet Malcolm's essay, Depth of Field, originally published in 2011 and based on a series of interviews with German photographer Thomas Struth – reprinted in her new collection, Forty-One False Starts.