New works by Kunstakademie star Thomas Ruff to launch in London

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Born in 1958 in Zell am Harmersbach, Germany, Thomas Ruff attended the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf from 1977 to 1985, going on to become one of Europe’s most iconic photographers.
In his considered approach to the means and possibilities of photography, Ruff has spent his career exploring a breadth of themes -but, more pertinently, how each of is reflected in the range of techniques he employs: analogue and digital exposures taken by the artist exist alongside computer generated imagery, photographs from scientific archives, and pictures culled and manipulated from newspapers, magazines, and the internet, go hand in hand with images created by his own camera.
The works in the exhibition present a continuation of the artist’s press++ series, which Ruff presented in New York earlier this year.
The series consists of photographs of archival media clippings from American newspapers across several decades.
While the earlier show focused on space exploration, this selection—which features both large-scale and smaller works—reflects a broader variety of themes, from car crashes to Hollywood stars.
Ruff scanned the front and back of the original documents, which he has been collecting over several years, and combined the two sides.
Interested equally in the subject matter (and any touch-ups) on the front of the paper and the words, stamps, signatures, and smudges on the back, Ruff has created seamless montages of image and text.
The overlap causes each side to lose its intended information and merge into a new image altogether.
As such, the often disrespectful treatment of press pictures by newspaper editors becomes obvious, as text, cropping, and retouching can all fundamentally change the original document.
rufth1341press++ continues Ruff’s long-standing interest in the deconstruction of the image and the new structures of photography following digital technology.
It relates to earlier series by the artist including Newspaper Photographs (1990-1991), in which images were sourced from analog newspaper prints, and jpegs (2004-2007), where he used digitally disseminated photographs.
Ruff’s digital composites are not concerned with the often fragmented and surrealistic effects produced by historical precedents in the art world, but with the treatment of the photographic image when it is redistributed and re-archived.
As layers of information coexist seamlessly, the idea of a source becomes increasingly obsolescent. The information of the press image is lost in favor of an image of its own artistic value.
Currently on view at The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo is a major survey of Ruff’s works spanning his entire career.
On show until November 13, 2016, the show will travel to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan.
Work by the artist is held in museum collections worldwide, including the Art Institute of Chicago; Dallas Museum of Art; Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg, Austria; Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; National Museum of Photography, Copenhagen; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.), Ghent. He lives and works in Düsseldorf.
Thomas Ruff’s New Works is on show at David Zwirner gallery, London, from November 18 – December 23, 2016
More information can be found here

Tom Seymour

Tom Seymour is an Associate Editor at The Art Newspaper and an Associate Lecturer at London College of Communication. His words have been published in The Guardian, The Observer, The New York Times, Financial Times, Wallpaper* and The Telegraph. He has won Writer of the Year and Specialist Writer of the year on three separate occassions at the PPA Awards for his work with The Royal Photographic Society.