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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Title: The Okutsu Family in Tatami Room, Yamaguchi
Date: 1996
Medium: Chromogenic print
Dimensions: Overall/Frame: 58 x 69 x 2 in. (147.3 x 175.3 x 5.1 cm)
Credit Line: The Ames Family Collection of Contemporary Photography
Object Number: 97.025
Label Text: In the mid-1980s Thomas Struth began a portrait series of individuals and family groups following collaborative projects with psychoanalyst Ingo Hartmann, where they analyzed family snapshots that Hartmann’s patients brought with them to therapy. Struth, using a large-format view camera, let his sitters arrange themselves in their homes and waited “for the instant in which every family member was vibrantly present” to capture the
perfect image.

Here the Okutsu family sits side-by-side in their tatami room, so named for the straw mat floor covering common to Japanese homes. Overall, this large-scale image has an exceptionally paintinglike presence. This portrait is psychologically charged yet vaguely disconcerting, as the viewer faces the relaxed but powerfully implacable gazes of each family member. The photograph truly embraces the personal and cultural dynamics that condition how we see others and ourselves, as well as how our individual and collective identities condition such perceptions. ("15 Minutes: Exposing Dimensions of Fame," curated by undergraduate members of Cornell's History of Art Major's Society and presented at the Johnson Museum April 16 - July 24, 2016)

NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.