Thomas Ruff

1958 · Germany

Artist biography

Thomas Ruff is a German Contemporary photographer and a prominent member of Dusseldorf school. Ruff is famous for his Portrait series that focuses on process, the use of simple, no-frills imagery. And his extensive art-work incorporates realistic images with images extracted from the Internet, magazines, and archives to stimulate the imagination.

Born February 10, 1958, in Zell am Harmersbach, Germany, Thomas Ruff studied photography at the Staatlichen Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf from 1977 to 1985. Ruff started experimenting with photography in black and white but soon transitioned to large color format such as in the Machine series (2003). At the same time, Ruff developed his approach of conceptual serial photography mainly landscapes before transitioning to the interiors and portraits of friends such as Haus (1987–91).

Thomas Ruff uses a wide palette of photography and art techniques that he relates to actual events, cultural changes and the impact of the digital age. Ruff’s photographic work while essentially capturing Dusserdolf proceeds from ongoing experimentation using unusual objects such as a night-vision enhancer for his Nacht series (1992-1996). Thomas Ruff is described as “a master of edited and reimagined images” resulting from the increasing use of digital manipulated photographs creating evoking yet unique pieces of art.

Thomas Ruff has exhibited widely since 1981, with solo shows such as the Tate Liverpool (2003), Musée d’Art Modern et Contemporain in Geneva (2004). And his photographs have been featured in important exhibitions such as Picturing Media: Modern Photographs from the Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (2001) and Moving Pictures at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and Guggenheim in Bilbao (2002), among others.

Thomas Ruff

  • Artworks in Collections 8
  • Exhibitions 19
  • Related Artists

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