Thomas Ruff, ‘h.t.b.16’, 1999, Sprüth Magers

To coincide with the renovation and reopening as museums of two villas designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the Haus Lange and Haus Esters, Ruff was asked to produce photos of every van der Rohe building in Europe designed between 1927 and 1930. He used an amalgamation of the various techniques he had already developed to create new ways of looking at the buildings, even including manipulating the images of others for buildings he couldn't physically photograph himself.

Series: L.M.V.D.R.

Image rights: © Thomas Ruff / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn Courtesy Sprüth Magers

Winzen, Matthias (Hg.), Thomas Ruff. Fotografien 1979 – heute, Verlag Walther König, Köln 2001, p. 243.

About Thomas Ruff

Thomas Ruff uses technological advancements to realize new visual possibilities of photography and question its artistic qualities. “I don’t believe in the psychologizing portrait photography that my colleagues do, trying to capture the character with a lot of light and shade,” he says. “That’s absolutely suspect to me. I can only show the surface. Whatever goes beyond that is more or less chance.” In the manner of the typologies and straight photography espoused by his teachers Bernd and Hilla Becher, Ruff’s best-known series is “Portraits” (1981-85), 60 frontal, identically framed photographs of expressionless men and women blown up to a monumental size. Authenticity and appropriation are of recurring interest to Ruff—he further explored these ideas in “Nudes” (2003), a photographic collection of distorted and enlarged thumbnails of pornographic photographs taken from the internet, and has produced series based on 3-D mathematical renderings, archival images of war and the night sky, and the architecture of Mies van der Rohe.

German, b. 1958, Zell am Harmersbach, Germany, based in Düsseldorf, Germany