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Thomas Ruff, b.1958

Porträt 2001 (A. Roters)2001

German photographic artist Thomas Ruff concentrates on images of the ordinary, usually from a directly frontal position. His analytical practice eschews narrative possibilities but uses scale and focus to create tension and drama between the image and the viewer.

Talking about his practice Ruff has said, “Every photo makes a claim. In order to prove that the visual claim is right I have to set up a whole series of similar shots […] it is not enough to make a portrait of just one person if you want to get an idea of the human being. In order to have as comprehensive a picture as possible, you have to make portraits of as many people as possible.” For his portrait photographs Ruff asked friends to pose in similar contexts with a neutral expression on their faces. The resulting images, especially when enlarged to 210 x 165 cm format, repel the viewer while simultaneously providing a detailed record of that individual face. For Ruff, these photographs proved his theory that photography can only depict the surface of things.

*Thomas Ruff, in ‘Photography as Proving Ground’, by Valeria Lieberman, Thomas Ruff Exhibition Catalogue, Essor Gallery, London 2001.

Dimensions 210 x 165 cm
Credit LineIMMA Collection: Purchase, 2002
EditionEdition 1/4
Item NumberIMMA.1524
Copyright For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].
Image Caption
Thomas Ruff, Porträt 2001 (A. Roters), 2001, C-print, 210 x 165 cm, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Purchase, 2002

For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].

About the Artist

Thomas Ruff b.1958

German photographer Thomas Ruff studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under Bernd and Hilla Becher. Influenced by the Bechers’ controlled aesthetic, Ruff’s photographic series’ of people and buildings follow strict compositional parameters based on democratic representation. Becoming more overtly political from the 1990s, Ruff also works with archival and web sourced images which he digitally alters and rescales. His photographic work is represented in major collections worldwide.

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We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June. A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. There are three exhibitions to visit  Hilary Heron: A Retrospective; Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s shop, café and gardens are all open.