Thomas Ruff
 
  • Selection
  • Introduction

  • Bio

  • Exhibitions

Thomas Ruff is among the most famous members of the Düsseldorf School – a group of photographers who studied with Bernd and Hilla Becher at the city’s Arts Academy between 1976 and 1996. The Düsseldorf School also includes figures such as Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, and Thomas Struht. Ruff achieved widespread recognition for his portraits, which are reminiscent of passport photos, with uniform composition and camera-to-subject distance, which was typical of the Bechers’ students. The artist has worked with a range of different subjects throughout his career, but is particularly interested in interiors and architectural shots. As a result, his works invariably have the character of a conceptual series.

“I believe that photography can only reveal the surface of things” says Ruff, whose pictures seek to transmit the obvious. This is particularly evident in his decision to work with colour photography, a format that is ideal for presenting the actual appearance of people. He deliberately avoids conveying information that could have meaning beyond the surface of the image. With the help of some minor post-editing, such as the removal of road signs or other distracting objects, Ruff strives to achieve a certain universality in his shots. His works are also reflections of the status of photography and the opportunities the medium presents.

The work “Tate 01” was created as part of a series to commemorate the opening of London’s Tate Modern. Ten renowned photographers, including Jeff Wall, were invited to contribute a piece that reflected on the renovation of the building from an oil-fired power plant into a museum. In his picture, Ruff superimposed a reflection of a tiled wall onto a glass wall inside the Turbine Hall, the heart of the building. Through this project, the artists were able to preserve a memorable moment in the history of the city, bridging the gap between documenting and artistically interpreting it.

Daniela Kummle
1958Born in Zell am Harmersbach, Germany
1977-1985Studied under Bernd and Hilla Becher at the National Arts Academy in Düsseldorf, Germany
1999Professor of Photography at the National Arts Academy in Düsseldorf, Germany
2000-2006Head of the Photography Department at the National Arts Academy in Düsseldorf, Germany
Lives and works in Düsseldorf


Awards (Selection)

2003Hans Thoma Award, Hans Thoma Kunstmuseum, Bernau, Germany
1990Dorothea von Stetten Art Award, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany
1988The North Rhine Westphalia Promotional Prize for Fine Arts


Collections (Selection)

FAIF Collection, Zurich, Switzerland


Solo Exhibitions (Selection)

2016press++, David Zwirner Gallery, New York, USA
2015Thomas Ruff: Lichten, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany
Thomas Ruff: Nature Morte, Gagosian Gallery, London, England
2014Thomas Ruf: Lichten, Stedelijk Museum vorr Actuele Kunst, Ghent, Belgium
Thomas Ruff: Photograms and Negatives, Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles, USA
ma.r.s., Mai 36 Galerie, Zurich, Switzerland
photograms, Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Munich, Germany
2013photograms and ma.r.s., David Zwirner Gallery New York, USA
m.a.r.s., Galeria Helga de Alvear, Mardrid, Spain
photograms, Johnen Galerie, Berlin, Germany
2012Thomas Ruff, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany
Thomas Ruff, Nudes, Gagosian Gallery, London, UK
2011Thomas Ruff- Stellar Landscapes, LWL-Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Münster, Germany
m.a.r.s., Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Malaga, Spain
MCA DNA: Thomas Ruff, MCA Chicago, Chicago, USA


Group Exhibitions (Selection)

2015Ce fabuleux monde modern, MAC Lyon, Lyon, France
Facing History, Contemporary Portraiture, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK
Theories on Forgetting, Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles, USA
Under the Clouds: From Paranoia to the Digital Sublime, Museu Serralves, Porto, Portugal
The war which is coming is not the first one, Great War 1914-2014. MART-Museo d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Trento, Italy
Don't Shoot the Painter: Paintings from the UBS Art Collection, GAM - Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Milano, Milan, Italy
2014(Mis)Understanding Photography. Werke und Manifeste, Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany
Datascapes, Foundation Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul, Turkey
Visionen, Atmosphären der Veränderung, Marta Herford, Gehry-Galerien, Herford, Germany
In Progress: Werke aus der MUMOK Sammlung, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, Austria
Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Chicago, USA
2013Ein Drittel Weiß, Kunst im Tunnel, Düsseldorf, Germany
Industrie, OstLicht, Galerie für Fotografie, Vienna, Austria
Staring Back, Museum of National Taipei University of Education, Taipei, Taiwan


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