Thomas Ruff - Photographs New York Tuesday, October 1, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    David Zwirner Gallery, New York, 2015

  • Literature

    Thomas Ruff: Editions, pl. 203, variant

  • Catalogue Essay

    Over his four-decade career Thomas Ruff has created one of the most diverse bodies of work of any of the Düsseldorf-trained photographers. Steeped in the documentary style of his mentors Bernd and Hilla Becher, Ruff first explored the limits of the lens’ objectivity and then became a pioneer in investigating the potential of digital photography, frequently improving existing technology or innovating entirely new tools to help him achieve his vision. In a recent interview Ruff stated, ‘if the technique does not exist, you have to invent it.’

    This approach is borne out by his photogram series. Inspired by a photogram in his own collection—a large-format work by Arthur Siegel made in the 1940s—Ruff began to contemplate how he could create the next generation of photograms which, in his view, should be larger than their 20th-century forbears, incorporate color, and not be tied to the physical limits of placing objects onto photo-sensitive material. Working digitally, Ruff began creating virtual objects of varying shapes, translucence, and reflectivity using 3-D modeling software. Over the course of two years, Ruff programmed a virtual darkroom in which he could compose his images, digitally controlling every variable, including the quality and direction of the virtual light and its interaction with the objects. The resulting files were so large and full of visual information that Ruff’s conventional computer could not render them, necessitating the custom formulation of a suite of six computers that would take one week to process each image. The resulting large-scale photograms are remarkably rich and immersive and show Ruff’s ability to take inspiration from photography’s history to build its future.



Chromogenic print, face-mounted to Plexiglas.
64 1/2 x 107 1/8 in. (163.8 x 272.1 cm)
Overall 72 1/2 x 115 in. (184.2 x 292.1 cm)

Signed, titled, dated and numbered 3/4 in pencil on the reverse of the backing board.

$40,000 - 60,000 

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Sarah Krueger
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Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairwoman, Americas

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New York Auction 1 October 2019