Thomas Ruff: after.images – WORKS 1989-2020
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Thomas Ruff: after.images – WORKS 1989-2020

Session Information

Number of Sessions Venue
日曆圖案 2021/03/27 09:00 ~ 2021/07/04 18:00
googleMap連結 Gallery 101 

Event Details

"Thomas Ruff: after.images" will be the first institutional solo exhibition of the German artist (born in 1958, Zell am Hamersbach) in South East Asia. It presents excerpts of 15 of the in-between 31 series the artist has produced since his beginnings in 1979. With around 105 works it is, after his retrospective at Haus der Kunst Munich (2012) and his recent Japan survey (National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, 2016/17) and his solo show in K20 – Kunstsammlung NRW (2020-21) one of his most comprehensive exhibitions by now. A new series by Thomas Ruff, entitled Tableaux chinois , based on propaganda photography from a magazine for foreign relations from the PR China and coffee table books on Mao's life and the history of the great achievements of the Chinese Communist Party in the 1950s and 1970s, will have its premier in Asia.


The year 1989, where the timeframe of the work on display starts, culturally coincides with political events, such as the fall of the German wall, the massacre at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing, but also with the global rise of digital photography and the accelerated circulation of digital imagery through the invention of the World Wide Web. Within this framework, the exhibition departs from crucial aspects of Ruffs artistic work, which since 1989 come increasingly to the foreground: while he was using the camera for most of his work from the late 1970s, from now the work with archival image databases, including his own artistic output, the camera-less image production on the computer, and the multilayered technical layering of photographic pictures increases. This thematical framework, plus the certainty that images are never neutral and objective but instead authored and primed directly or indirectly by ideological motivations, allows to embrace the full thematic output of Ruffs work, while setting a historical timeframe in his artistic production.


The exhibition title "afterimages" refers to the physiological phenomenon of the afterimage. Like a shadow, it hovers over the human eye as a representation of what was seen shortly before, often including color alterations and perspective shifts – methods, which the artist also includes in his repertoire. The title can also lead to speculations of the contemporary status of world of photographic images, repeatedly described as "post-photographic": we live in a world surrounded by existing images, and a huge part of dealing with those consists of filtering, editing, and manipulating those images. The artistic practice of Thomas Ruff makes fully use of these techniques, since it is not so much interested in the images of reality, but instead in the multiple realities of images themselves. To reflect the conditions and protocols of the photographic medium is a key feature of conceptually oriented photography.


The exhibition curated by Martin Germann and the show is conceived as a spatial network of museum galleries with five visitor friendly thematic chapters to understand and to read Ruffs practice from various angles: 1. Working in Series: Tableaux chinois, 2. Turning Points in the History of Photography, 3. Astronomy, 4. Genre, and 5. Press, in which many of the issues interfere. It starts with introduction in the way the artist works and covers various scientific turning points in the history of photography, as well as photography's relation to painting and its scientific means, which also embed personal interests of the artist such as astronomy, and ends with its meaning in the everyday, for press and communication.



Thomas Ruff

Born in 1958, Zell am Harmersbach, Germany

Represented Germany at Venice Biennial in 1995

Was professor at the Düsseldorf Art Academy 2001-2006


Thomas Ruff is among the most influential photographers working today. A prolific member of the so-called Becher school, formed by Bernd and Hilla Becher at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, Ruff has redefined photography's conceptual possibilities, simultaneously capturing and questioning the essence of photography as both a means and tool for visual experience.


Over the past 30 years, Ruff has been analyzing the various photographic genres in his work – including portraiture, the nude, landscape and architectural photography – in terms of their visual expressiveness. He carries out these investigations using his own analog and digital photographs, computer-generated images, alongside images culled from scientific archives, print media, and the Internet.


Whereas in the 1980s he worked almost exclusively with an analog camera, as the availability of digital image technologies became more readily available in the mid-1990s he has become increasingly involved in the different fields of the digital visual world. The point of departure of his artistic work is not the direct mirroring of reality, but rather it is the image-generating and manipulative character of the medium of photography. This extremely critical and at the same time reflective use of photographic means runs throughout his oeuvre, which in the meantime has grown to encompass 31 series.



Martin Germann (Curator)

Martin Germann works as independent curator and lives in Cologne, Germany. Upcoming projects for 2021 include the group show "Another Energy" (co-curated with Mami Kataoka) at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, as well as solo exhibitions with Oliver Laric at OCAT Shanghai, Thomas Ruff at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, and Raoul De Keyser at MWOODS in Beijing.


From 2012-2019 he was leading the artistic department of S.M.A.K., the Municipal Museum of Ghent (Belgium). Before this tenure he worked as curator at Kestner Gesellschaft Hanover (2008-2012) and for the Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art (2003-2006). He has published numerous exhibition catalogues and monographies and his writing has appeared in international magazines such as Frieze , Mousse, or 032c. He teaches regularly as visiting lecturer at the Higher Institute of Fine Arts (HISK), Ghent, and serves as board member of Etablissement d'en Face in Brussels.

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展覽手冊 Exhibition Brochure

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