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Portrait Isabelle

Thomas Ruff

Porträt 1989 (I. Graw) (1989/2012)

Thomas Ruff is regarded as one of the most influential photographers today, even though he rarely actually takes a camera in hand. A former student of the Bechers, he instead critically examines the status of the photographic image in the age of its technological reproduction and digital distribution. For the past several years, Ruff has accordingly worked primarily with material he finds on the Web and manipulates using digital software. His goal is to systematically expose the technological conditions of his medium. For the series “jpgs” (2006), for instance, he magnified pictures from the virtual expanses of the Internet to the point where each pixel became visible and the motif faded as its geometric structure came to the fore. For “Texte zur Kunst”, Ruff has created an edition based on the widely acclaimed “Portraits” series that launched his career on the international stage in the late 1980s. Like all pictures in the series, which were always taken according to the same principles, the 1989 photograph shows an individual from Ruff’s personal acquaintance (here it is Isabelle Graw): captured from the shoulders upward and set before a uniform background, the young woman frontally faces the beholder. The rigorous staging and the even lighting bolster the sober and neutral depiction of the sitter, as does her motionless and distant gaze. It is almost as though the individual were cast into anonymity, directing our attention to the portrait’s formal qualities and raising the more general question of the relationship between the subject and her photographic representation.

Thomas Ruff, „Porträt 1989 (I. Graw)“, 1989/2012, C-Print, 30 × 22 cm, Edition: 150 + 20 A.P., signed and numbered on the back, 290,– Euro plus shipping