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Thomas Ruff Exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art

The first major exhibition in this country by the acclaimed German photographer Thomas Ruff opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Friday 2 August 2002. 'Thomas Ruff: Photographs 1979 to the Present', which comprises over a 100 works, presents an extensive overview of every facet of the artist’s output, including his deceptively straightforward shots of architecture and interiors and his famous oversized, deadpan 'Portrait' series, on which he has been working since 1980.

Thomas Ruff’s art explores the objective gaze of the lens and the role of the viewer, the photographer and the subject. In addition to his interiors and portraits, he has worked with many other subjects, including landscape, nightscape, nudes and collage, all of which interrogate the medium of photography. Ruff has explored many familiar genres and has an uncanny feel for the ordinary – in people, places and objects.

For the first time, in this exhibition and its accompanying catalogue, Ruff’s artistic oeuvre is placed within the overall context of the 15 series of works he has created to date. Working in series is an integral part of Ruff’s work. He describes the process as being “like a scientist carrying out a series of experiments ... I am convinced that it is not enough to make a portrait of just one person if you want to get an idea of the human being, in order to have as comprehensive a picture as possible, you have to make portraits of as many people as possible. The same applies to houses, heavenly bodies, newspaper photos, night shots and so on, right down to sexual fantasies. A single picture is too little, that is why I work in series.”

Born in 1958 in Zell am Harmersbach in the Black Forest, Thomas Ruff acquired his first camera, a small-format Nikon FTN, at the age of 16. Three years later he enter the Dusseldorf Art Academy, where he studied under the highly-influential Bernd Becher. By the age of 23 he was already showing his works in major galleries in Germany, achieving international acclaim with his 'Portraits' series in 1987-88. Ruff’s work has since been shown throughout Europe and in the United States, Japan and Israel. In 1992 he took part in Documenta 9 and in 1995 was represented in the German pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Since 2000 he has held the post of Professor at the State Academy in Dusseldorf.

Thomas Ruff: Photographs 1979 to the Present is a touring exhibition organised by Kunsthalle Baden-Baden. The exhibition is supported by the Institute of Foreign Cultural Relations, Stuttgart, and the Göethe Institute, Dublin.

A major full-colour publication, published by the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden with an essay by the curator Dr Matthias Winzen, accompanies the exhibition (price €35.00).

Mr Ian Jeffrey, art historian and writer on the history of photography, will give a talk on the Thomas Ruff exhibition at IMMA on Thursday 1 August at 11.00am.

'Thomas Ruff: Photographs 1979 to the Present' continues until 6 October.

Admission to the exhibition is free.

Opening hours: Tue - Sat 10.00am - 5.30pm
Sun & Bank Holidays 12 noon - 5.30pm
Mondays Closed

For further information and colour and black and white images please contact Monica Cullinane at Tel : +353 1 612 9900, Fax : +353 1 612 9999 Email : press@modernart.ie
23 July 2002

Irish Museum of Modern Art, Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, Ireland
Tel: +353-1-6129900, Email:
info@imma.ie