Thomas Ruff

Date : 2001

Medium : Photography

Size : 180 x 240 cm

Laserchrome and diasec, Edition 3/5

Thomas Ruff's work is based on a series of photos of houses built by Mies van der Rohe in Krefeld between 1928 and 1930. He photographs them coldly, with no special effects, and without trying to highlight the new or old aspects.
The first series was an order made during the restoration of the Esters and Lange de Krefeld houses. His aim was to visually capture all the architectural constructions of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in Europe. The images that make up the series are the façades and interiors of the various buildings. While some are faithful representations, others have been manipulated to the point of being unrecognisable.

The guide

This photograph by Thomas Ruff plunges the viewer into a world of doubt and illusion.
But is it actually a photo, or painting?
At first look, you might think it is a painting. The illusion fades as you realise it is not, but the curiosity remains.
The artist is playing very cleverly on photographic codes. He settles on a particular genre: architectural photography. Between 1999 and 2001, he concentrated on the work of one of the greatest 20th century architects: Mies Van der Rohe.
The building in this work was a key construction of the 1920s, built by van der Rohe in Stuttgart in 1926.

However, the photograph does not render the strength and rigidity of the building but instead blurs it.
Whereas a good photograph, particularly an architectural photograph, should be clear and precise, Ruff deliberately makes this photo blurry. The technique almost creates an illusion of movement.

The technique is all the more successful because the blurriness only increases when the viewer gets closer to the work.
Take a closer look. Notice how the contours blend together even more as the picture detaches itself from reality.
Ruff has modified the picture to create an unusual photographic image that gradually unfolds as the viewer approaches.