- Digital Formats
Colour photography, photo paper
26.9 x 20.9 cm each
Faces against neutral, monochrome backdrops. Soft light. Sober. The portraits are reminiscent of passport photos. The people portrayed are seen in profile, in half profile, or in frontal view. What do they reveal about themselves? Thomas Ruff, one of Bernd and Hilla Becher's best-known students, took a strictly conceptual approach to his series: each subject looks into the camera with a neutral facial expression. The social surroundings are faded out, appearance and clothing remain. What conclusions can be drawn about character?
As Thomas Ruff himself says, the inner truth of a person can never be represented in a picture. Images are constructs. To become aware of this is something Ruff constantly reminds the viewers of in his works.
The 40 photographs in the series were taken between 1983 and 1987 at the Düsseldorf Art Academy and show his fellow students in a living situation similar to his own. What are the characters and life stories of these art students?
The facial features, the hairstyle, the make-up, the jewellery and the clothing afford a view of the surface, but not the 'inner truth' of the person. In these days, the series evokes associations of virtual meetings at which everyone, frontal and flat, has taken care to leave out the home life with which every single person is connected.
Since the end of the 1980s, Ruff has opted to work with a neutral white background and to present his portraits in monumental format, far larger than life. The photo series 'Young People' marks the beginning of his international fame.
Works by Ruff have been on tour for ifa in the exhibition 'Traveling the World' since 2013. In 1995, ifa supported Ruff's contribution to the German pavilion at the Venice Biennale, which was curated by Jean-Christophe Ammann and also showed works by Martin Honert and Katharina Fritsch.