Thomas Ruff: tableaux chinois

Ruff's tableaux chinois arose from his long-standing interest in the genre of propaganda photography, which is inherently in conflict with the medium’s mimetic capability. The artist previously explored the chasm between representation and reality in series such as Zeitungsfotos (1990–1991) and Plakate (1996–1999). However, here he widens his scope to simultaneously encompass the analog and the digital, as well as the cultural and the political. In these works, Ruff takes images of Mao Zedong scanned from La Chine magazine—the French iteration of a periodical that the Chinese Communist Party produced specifically for Europe from the late 1950s through the 1970s—and manipulates them to create images with both the halftone of the “analog” offset printing and the “digital” structure of the pixel image. As Susanne Holschbach observes, “Ruff has visually merged the technological process of preparing photographs for their mass distribution from the two photographic eras on one pictorial plane.”

A chromogenic print with Diasec by Thomas Ruff, titled tableau chinois_02 I, dated 2021.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_02 I, 2021
Chromogenic print with Diasec
94 1/2 x 72 7/8 inches (240 x 185 cm)
A chromogenic print by Thomas Ruff, titled tableau chinois_14 I, dated 2021.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_14 I, 2021
Chromogenic print with Diasec
94 1/2 x 72 7/8 inches (240 x 185 cm)
A chromogenic print by Thomas Ruff, titled tableau chinois_17 III, dated 2021.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_17 III, 2021
Chromogenic print with Diasec
94 1/2 x 72 7/8 inches (240 x 185 cm)
A photograph by Thomas Ruff titled tableau chinois_18, dated 2020.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_18, 2020
Chromogenic print with Diasec
94 1/8 x 72 1/2 inches (239 x 184 cm)
A diptych by Thomas Ruff titled tableau chinois_19a, tableau chinois_19b, dated 2020.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_19a, tableau chinois_19b, 2020
Chromogenic print with Diasec
Diptych
Each: 94 1/8 x 72 1/2 inches (239 x 184 cm)
A photograph by Thomas Ruff titled tableau chinois_16, dated 2019.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_16, 2019
Chromogenic print with Diasec
94 1/8 x 72 1/2 inches (239 x 184 cm)

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