Thomas Ruff, ‘Sterne 11h 12m/-35°’, 1989, Phillips

Property Subject to the Artist's Resale Right (see Conditions of Sale for further information)

Image: 200.5 x 133.7 cm (78 7/8 x 52 5/8 in.)
Frame: 258.5 x 186.2 cm (101 3/4 x 73 1/4 in.)

From the Catalogue:
‘My images are not images of reality, but show a kind of second reality, the image of the image.’

Thomas Ruff

In his Sterne series (1989 -1992), Thomas Ruff takes the objectivity of documentation in photography into a dialogue between reality and art. Using high-resolution negatives obtained from the archives of the European Southern Observatory, Ruff cropped, printed and repositioned the negatives of the night sky above Chile. In the present work, we experience the transformation from scientific document to art, whereby a seemingly objective image is viewed as abstracted beauty. The work confronts us with our tendency to impose what we think we see. When we look at a star in the night sky, we are not seeing the actual star itself, but a trace of light travelling across time and space. And that too is what defines a photograph – light traces on paper of something that no longer exists.
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: Signed, titled, dated and numbered 2/2 in pencil on the reverse of the frame.

M. Winzen, ed., Thomas Ruff: 1979 to the Present, D.A.P., 2001, p. 196, STE 3.04
Thomas Ruff: Stellar Landscapes, Kehrer, 2011, p. 12

Sébastien Janssen, Brussels

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