Kunsthalle Düsseldorf open a new show this weekend of the German photographer Thomas Ruff. 'Lichten (lighting)' will bring together work from the last 35 years spanning his career from the late 1970's to the present day. A student of Berndt Becher at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Ruff was best known for his interior and portrait photography in his early career but went on to question the 'truth value' in his documentary. He would go on to take a more political stance in the 90's with images exploring reportage and surveillance during the Gulf War before abandoning the traditional image almost entirely in favour of digital, composite image-making and photomontage.

As the title of this exhibition suggests, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf explores light within Ruff's work from the natural, the manipulated to the virtual. At the heart of the exhibition are two recent groups of chromogenic print work phg (2012-present) virtual simulations of the classical genre of the photogram, and Negative (2014 ongoing) in which the artist returns to the origins of photography in the 19th century. 

The large-scale series phg has been much exhibited in the last couple of years and demonstrates Ruff's desire to create a "new generation of the photogram" which he defines as a kind of "Pencil of nature...a very vague photography where you can't recognise things very clearly but you recognise something" (Aperture. Summer 2013). 

Also on show in Düsseldorf are works from Sterne (Stars, 1989-1992), Nächte (Nights, 1992-1996) and a selection from Ruff's earliest series Interieurs (1979-1983). It is always nice to see the latter get an airing, there is a seductive simplicity in his interior details - the pastel ceramic tiles, stainless steel work surface and spiky cactus or the antiquated cabinet with its horses and ducks. Ruff photographed his friends houses but, ultimately, gave this particular series up when they began to redecorate and lose the post-war features that so interested him.

The exhibition has been produced and designed in close collaboration with Ruff and will not only provide a great introduction to the artists career for the uninitiated but also a progressive look at the artists current practice. A must if your in Düsseldorf this Autumn/Winter.


'Thomas Ruff: Lichten' runs from 20 Sep - 11 Jan at Kunsthalle Düsseldorf.

The exhibition has toured from S.M.A.K, Gent.

You can find a rather nice interview with Ruff in Summer 2013's Aperture here:



AuthorSacha Waldron