Thomas Ruff — Zeitungsfotos / Newspaper Photographs

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“Best known for his oversized, dead-pan portraits, his unmediated shots of commonplace interiors, and his seemingly straightforward photographs of architecture, Thomas Ruff has quietly approached many familiar genres, and proceeded to discreetly reinvent them. For his Zeitungsfotos (Newspaper Photographs) series, Ruff found images in newspapers, and then re-photographed and enlarged them to isolate the photographs from the text, allowing Ruff’s viewer, now no longer a reader, to make assumptions about the photograph without any information to support the viewer’s inferences”


Bookhorse, 2014. Small 8vo in wraps as issued (14×19 cm). 800 pages with 400 reproductions from German newspapers that Ruff collected over the span of 10 years. Book design by Lex Trueb

First edition. Fine copy

Like Gerhard Richters’ Atlas project Ruff has built up an archive of found photographs, a semi-archival compendium of re-shot newspaper photos, which he shows reproduced at twice their original size. That doesn’t make Ruff’s versions intrinsically more interesting than the originals. What does make them fascinating, however, is the choices he has made. (…) Ruff is the most faithful and diligent of Becher’s students, in that his work has always been concerned with the emptiness of the photographic image, the camera’s affectless gaze, and how the gaze itself – of the camera as much as that of the artist or of the people being photographed – is his true subject. What Ruff is really about, this line runs, is the fact that the photograph can only ever record the surface of things. There is nothing wrong with that, of course, or with the natural human impulse to want to go deeper, to get beyond the surface.”

Thomas Ruff — Zeitungsfotos / Newspaper Photographs