About this artwork
Thomas Ruff studied photography at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from 1977 to 1985, under renowned photographer Bernd Becher. In 1981 he began taking portraits of his contemporaries in order to create an “official portrait of [his] generation,” a generation marked by a pervasive culture of surveillance. By 1988 Ruff had established strict parameters for the series: frontal view, bust portrait composition, neutral background, even lighting, and a blank facial expression. The resulting portraits resemble mug shots or passport photographs in their descriptive uniformity and lack of emotional content; they are deliberately bereft of information about the sitter’s emotional state, belief system, or identity. Printed at great scale, the sitter’s visage becomes disorienting, easy to scrutinize yet devoid of anything but surface information.
Currently Off View
- Thomas Ruff
- United States
- Chromogenic print, edition 2/3
- Unmarked recto; signed and inscribed verso, lower right, in graphite: "Th Ruff / 2/3 1988"
- 164.5 x 130.2 x 3 cm (frame)
- Gift of Lannan Foundation