Opening on November 9, 2007, David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by German artist Thomas Ruff. This will be the artist’s fifth solo exhibition at the gallery. In 2007, Ruff was the subject of two one-person museum exhibitions at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden and the Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany. His numerous group exhibitions recently include Depth of Field: Modern Photography, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; What does the jellyfish want? Photographs from Man Ray to James Coleman, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; Fast Forward: Collections for the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX (all 2007); Desacogedor: Escenas fantasmas en la sociedad global, La Bienal Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo de Sevilla, Seville, Spain; Super Vision, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; and Ecotopia: The Second ICP Triennial of Photography and Video, International Center of Photography, New York, NY (all 2006). He was the 2006 recipient of the Infinity Award for Art presented by the International Center of Photography, New York, NY.
In this exhibition, Ruff continues to explore the distribution and reception of images in the digital age through his jpeg series. Using JPEGs (the standard compression files for Internet images) culled primarily from the World Wide Web, Ruff attempts to create a visual lexicon or encyclopedic compendium of contemporary history, cataloguing locations, events, and natural phenomenon. Enlarged by the artist to gigantic scale, the JPEGs become geometric displays of color; the exaggerated pixel patterns leave the image nearly unrecognizable from close view. Much like Impressionist paintings, these photographs require the viewer to stand at a distance in order to make a visual assessment of the image content. The distinct modes of viewing–close, mid-range, and far–integral to fully processing the works, challenge viewers to examine the way they look at images in the art context and the everyday. Further, instead of straightforwardly titling the works to communicate their historical and geographic reference points, Ruff employs acronyms, calling upon viewers to decode and determine meaning.