Thomas Ruff: tableaux chinois | David Zwirner
A detail from a work by Thomas Ruff, titled tableau chinois_06, dated 2019.

Thomas Ruff

tableaux chinois

David Zwirner is pleased to present recent photographs by the German artist Thomas Ruff at the gallery’s Paris location. The exhibition will feature works from Ruff’s tableaux chinois series (2019–), which debuted in fall 2020 as a part of his solo exhibition at K20 - Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, on view through February 7, 2021. Works from tableaux chinois, alongside fifteen other series dating back to 1989, will be included in after.images, a major solo exhibition of the artist's work curated by Martin Germann at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, opening in March 2021.

Ruff rose to international prominence in the late 1980s as a member of the Düsseldorf School, a group of young photographers who had studied under Bernd and Hilla Becher at the renowned Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and became known for their experimental approach to the medium and its evolving technological capabilities.

 

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Image: Thomas Ruff, tableau chinois_06, 2019 (detail)



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Dates
January 14March 19, 2021
Artist
An installation view of an exhibition titled Thomas Ruff; tableaux chinois, at David Zwirner, Paris, in 2021.

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: tableaux chinois, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: tableaux chinois, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

An installation view of an exhibition titled Thomas Ruff: tableaux chinois, at David Zwirner, Paris, in 2021.

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: tableaux chinois, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: tableaux chinois, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

An installation view of an exhibition titled Thomas Ruff: tableaux chinois, at David Zwirner, Paris, in 2021.

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: tableaux chinois, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: tableaux chinois, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

“[To create the tableaux chinois, Thomas Ruff] scanned over-idealized propaganda photographs … and then partially pixelated them.… At the same time, Ruff applied the layer of pixels only in particular areas, primarily in the background of the pictures, while it is erased in the primary areas, especially in the faces of the protagonists.… Thus, the digital and analog spheres overlap.”

—Falk Wolf, “Superimposing and Coloring,” in Thomas Ruff, 2020

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 x 2 3/4 inches
239 x 184 x 7 cm
A photograph by Thomas Ruff titled tableau chinois_10, dated 2019.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_10, 2019
Chromogenic print with Diasec
94 1/8 x 72 1/2 x 2 3/4 inches
239 x 184 x 7 cm

“What photography captures is maybe not a found reality but a prearranged reality.”

—Thomas Ruff in conversation with Okwui Enwezor, in Thomas Ruff: Transforming Photography, 2019

A photo of copies of La Chine magazine.

Copies of La Chine magazine

Copies of La Chine magazine

A selection of La Chine magazines.

Copies of La Chine magazine

Copies of La Chine magazine

In the early 2000s, Ruff came across a coffee table book on Mao Zedong, and became interested in Mao not only as a political figure but also as a cultural reference point for Western artists.

He scanned images from books on Mao and from La Chine, the magazine published and distributed worldwide by the Chinese Communist Party. 

A photograph by Thomas Ruff titled tableau chinois_09, dated 2019.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_09, 2019
Chromogenic print with Diasec
94 1/8 x 72 1/2 x 2 3/4 inches (239 x 184 x 7 cm)

“[Ruff] makes images that are at once familiar clichés and estranged visions of our collective photographic order.… Artists have worked with found images in different ways but always in an attempt to make sense of a culture increasingly dominated by spectacle.”

—David Campany, “Thomas Ruff: Aesthetic of the Pixel,” IANN magazine, 2008

A painting by Erro, titled Chairman Mao's Long Journey, New York.

Erró, New Jersey, 1979–1980

Erró, New Jersey, 1979–1980

A painting by Andy Warhol, titled Mao, dated 1972.

Andy Warhol, Mao, 1972. © 2018 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Andy Warhol, Mao, 1972. © 2018 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

A photograph by Thomas Ruff, titled Zeitungsfoto 026, dated 1990.

Thomas Ruff, Zeitungsfoto 026, 1990

Thomas Ruff, Zeitungsfoto 026, 1990

 “Artists such as Andy Warhol and Erró referenced Mao Zedong as a pop-cultural phenomenon. The title of Ruff’s series is a direct reference to Erró, whose series of paintings Tableaux chinois transports the figures of Chinese propaganda images to Western tourist attractions in a collage-like manner.”

—Falk Wolf, “Superimposing and Coloring,” 2020

“With his series, Ruff ties in directly with the Communist state propaganda of China. He lends the pictures produced for magazines the dimensions of wall paintings.… At the same time, he defamiliarizes the images by covering the background with a raster of pixels. This cipher for things digital catapults the images into the present.”

—Falk Wolf, “Superimposing and Coloring,” 2020

 A photograph by Thomas Ruff titled tableau chinois_11, dated 2019.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_11, 2019
Chromogenic print with Diasec
94 1/8 x 72 1/2 x 2 3/4 inches (239 x 184 x 7 cm)
A photograph by Thomas Ruff titled tableau chinois_16, dated 2019.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_16, 2019
Chromogenic print with Diasec
94 1/2 x 62 1/4 inches (240 x 158 cm)

“The tableaux chinois series oscillates—depending on one’s point of view—between the global, intact pictorial impression and the impression of the production and distribution traces of the image.… Ruff has visually merged the technological processes of preparing photographs for their mass distribution from the two photographic eras on one pictorial plane.”

—Susanne Holschbach, “Flâneur, Researcher, Image Producer: Thomas Ruff and the Photographic Archive,” in Thomas Ruff, 2020

A dyptic by Thomas Ruff titled tableau chinois_05a, tableau chinois_05b, dated 2019.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_05a, tableau chinois_05b, 2019
Chromogenic print with Diasec
Diptych
Each: 94 1/8 x 72 1/2 x 2 3/4 inches (239 x 184 x 7 cm)
A photograph by Thomas Ruff titled tableau chinois_06, dated 2019.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_06, 2019
Chromogenic print with Diasec
72 1/2 x 94 1/8 x 2 3/4 inches (184 x 239 x 7 cm)

“When we glimpse pixels we do not think of authenticity (although we may do one day). The pixel represents a cold technological limit, a confrontation with the virtual and bureaucratic order that secretly unites all images in a homogenous electronic continuum, whether they are holiday snapshots or military surveillance.”

—David Campany, “Thomas Ruff: Aesthetic of the Pixel,” 2008

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 x 2 3/4 inches
239 x 184 x 7 cm
A photograph by Thomas Ruff titled tableau chinois_04, dated 2019.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_04, 2019
Chromogenic print with Diasec
94 1/8 x 72 1/2 x 2 3/4 inches (239 x 184 x 7 cm)

“For Ruff, the decisive factor regarding the success of any series of experiments is always the result—and the result is a new image.”

—Susanne Holschbach, “Flâneur, Researcher, Image Producer: Thomas Ruff and the Photographic Archive,” 2020

An installation view of an exhibition titled Thomas Ruff: tableaux chinois, at David Zwirner, Paris, in 2021.

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: tableaux chinois, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: tableaux chinois, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

An installation view of an exhibition titled Thomas Ruff: tableaux chinois, at David Zwirner, Paris, in 2021.

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: tableaux chinois, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: tableaux chinois, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

An installation view of an exhibition titled Thomas Ruff: tableaux chinois, at David Zwirner, Paris, in 2021.

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: tableaux chinois, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: tableaux chinois, David Zwirner, Paris, 2021

Inquire about works by Thomas Ruff

A photograph by Thomas Ruff titled tableau chinois_17, dated 2020.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_17, 2020
Chromogenic print with Diasec
94 1/8 x 72 1/2 x 2 3/4 inches
239 x 184 x 7 cm
A photograph by Thomas Ruff titled tableau chinois_04, dated 2019.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_04, 2019
Chromogenic print with Diasec
94 1/8 x 72 1/2 x 2 3/4 inches (239 x 184 x 7 cm)
A dyptic by Thomas Ruff titled tableau chinois_05a, tableau chinois_05b, dated 2019.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_05a, tableau chinois_05b, 2019
Chromogenic print with Diasec
Diptych
Each: 94 1/8 x 72 1/2 x 2 3/4 inches (239 x 184 x 7 cm)
A photograph by Thomas Ruff titled tableau chinois_06, dated 2019.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_06, 2019
Chromogenic print with Diasec
72 1/2 x 94 1/8 x 2 3/4 inches (184 x 239 x 7 cm)
A photograph by Thomas Ruff titled tableau chinois_09, dated 2019.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_09, 2019
Chromogenic print with Diasec
94 1/8 x 72 1/2 x 2 3/4 inches (239 x 184 x 7 cm)
A photograph by Thomas Ruff titled tableau chinois_10, dated 2019.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_10, 2019
Chromogenic print with Diasec
94 1/8 x 72 1/2 x 2 3/4 inches
239 x 184 x 7 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 x 2 3/4 inches
239 x 184 x 7 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 x 2 3/4 inches (239 x 184 x 7 cm)
 A photograph by Thomas Ruff titled tableau chinois_11, dated 2019.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_11, 2019
Chromogenic print with Diasec
94 1/8 x 72 1/2 x 2 3/4 inches (239 x 184 x 7 cm)
A photograph by Thomas Ruff titled tableau chinois_16, dated 2019.

Thomas Ruff

tableau chinois_16, 2019
Chromogenic print with Diasec
94 1/2 x 62 1/4 inches (240 x 158 cm)

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          tableaux chinois

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