Photographer Thomas Struth has expressed in interviews his "interest in the fate of art in museums." To him, the central question of the museum comes down to determining if museums are cemeteries or living organisms. Are classical paintings being storehoused as relics, or are they communicating vital ideas to viewers? This idea informed Struth's large-scale photographs of people in museums standing before the art. Individuals and groups gather in front of paintings, sometimes unconsciously mirroring the compositions before them, sometimes disinterested, sometimes oblivious. In his portrait of museum employees, The Restorers at San Lorenzo Maggiore, four conservators stand impassively near a table, none of them noticing the religious paintings leaning against the wall. A larger-than-life-size painting of the Crucifixion looms over the group, nothing more than a fixture of the group's daily workplace — it's a bit disconcerting. Struth's interest in the museum's role dovetails well with the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts' (3716 Washington Boulevard; 314-754-1850 or www.pulitzerarts.org) current exhibition, Ideal (Dis)Placements: Old Masters at the Pulitzer, which questions the how and why of contemporary museums' display methods. An exhibition of Struth's photographs opens on Wednesday, June 24, in the Pulitzer's lower gallery, and remains up through Saturday, October 3. The Pulitzer is open on Wednesday and Saturday.
Wednesdays, Saturdays. Starts: June 24. Continues through Oct. 3, 2009