Thomas Ruff

Zell am Harmersbach, Germany, 1958

Thomas Ruff lives and works in Dusseldorf. In 1977 he entered the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf, where he was given classes by Bernd and Hilla Becher and coincided with other outstanding artists like Candida Höfer, Axel Hütte, Andreas Gursky or Thomas Struth.From 2000 to 2006 he was a professor at this same academy.

Already, during his formative years in the academy, Ruff stood out from the rest of the piers of his generation by using colour photography, showing a remarkable interest in the image itself and the production media. He conceives photography as a medium that only captures the surface of things, allowing the spectator to discover significances.

Better known for his recovery of the portrait genre in the 1980s, with half-bodies and a neutral expression, his series also profoundly express other themes and reflect diverse techniques: private spaces that reflect his own family intimacy, architecture, the apparent banality of the façades of houses and buildings and industrial estates seen from an aseptic, cold viewpoint, or his own particular recreation of public buildings like the market in the series ”M.p.d.n” (Mercato del pesce di Napoli); astronomy, to which he has been drawn from a very young age, or the reutilisation of existing press and scientific photographic material, which he manipulates digitally until bringing the image to the edges of abstraction.

His most recent work reflects the power of the image in the digital era: he selects images on the Internet, which he enlarges to a huge scale until achieving beautiful fields of colour, and chooses pornographic images which he divests of their aggressive sexual nature by reducing their definition, even bringing them close to realms of painting.

Thomas Ruff represented Germany in the Venice Biennial of 1995, and has been awarded the following prizes: the Hans-Thoma Preis, by the Hans-Thoma Kunstmuseum in Bernau (Germany, 2003), the International Center of Photography Infinity Award (New York, 2006) and Premio PhotoEspaña 2011. His prolific career includes numerous individual exhibitions: Museum für Moderne Kunst (Frankfurt, 1992), Centre national de la photographie (Paris, 1997), Pusan Metropolitan Art Museum (Korea, 2003), Musée d’art moderne (Geneva, 2004), Moderna Museet (Stockholm, 2007), Kunsthalle Wien (Vienna, 2009), Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga (2011) and Sala Alcalá 31 (Madrid, 2013). His work forms part of museums and institutions such as the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donna Regina (Naples), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), Moderna Museet (Stockholm), the Essl Museum (Vienna), Artium de Álava (Vitoria), Es Baluard Museu d’Art Modern i Contemporani de Palma and the Colección de Arte de la Fundación Telefónica, Madrid.

Works in the collection