A detail of a carpet by Thomas Ruff, titled d.o.pe.03 I, dated 2022

Thomas Ruff: d.o.pe.

David Zwirner is pleased to present new work by German artist Thomas Ruff (b. 1958), on view at the gallery’s 533 West 19th Street location in New York. The exhibition debuts Ruff’s d.o.pe. series, the title of which references Aldous Huxley’s autobiographical volume The Doors of Perception, published in 1954. Featuring fractal patterns the artist creates with a specialized software program that are printed onto industrial carpets, these works foreground Ruff’s ongoing pursuit of the visual expression of the beauty of mathematics and additionally call back to his own formative experiences as a teenager in the Black Forest. Further recalling the highly detailed and exuberant Northern Renaissance style of artists such as Hieronymus Bosch and Matthias Grünewald, d.o.pe. extends Ruff’s exploration of human perception and his interest in creating digital imagery that appears at once natural and artificial, ultimately foregrounding the pure pleasure of visuality and of looking. This is the artist’s twelfth exhibition with David Zwirner. 

Image: Thomas Ruff, d.o.pe.03 I, 2022 (detail)

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Dates
September 15October 22, 2022
Gallery Hours
Tues—Sat 10am-6pm
Artist
A Photo by Juergen Staack of Thomas Ruff in his studio, dated 2021

Thomas Ruff in his studio, 2021. Photo by Juergen Staack

Thomas Ruff in his studio, 2021. Photo by Juergen Staack

“[Ruff] sets about a stretching of our definition of what a photograph might be, reminding us that it participates within an industry of unstoppable development encompassing not only popular photographies, but the experimental, non-figurative imagery of scientific and technological enquiry, minerals, chemistry, and encoding.”

—Duncan Wooldridge, The Recursive Image, 2022

A Colaris print on velour carpet by Thomas Ruff, titled d.o.pe.03, dated 2022.

Thomas Ruff

d.o.pe.03, 2022
Colaris on velour carpet
105 1/8 x 78 1/8 inches (267 x 198.4 cm)

This exhibition debuts Ruff’s d.o.pe. series, which features fractal patterns the artist creates with a specialized software program. Ruff first became aware of fractals, a term introduced by French mathematician Benoît Mandelbrot in 1975, early in his career in relation to his longstanding interest in the visualization of mathematical phenomena.

A Colaris print on velour carpet by Thomas Ruff, titled d.o.pe 07, dated 2022.

Thomas Ruff

d.o.pe 07, 2022
Colaris on velour carpet
105 x 78 1/2 inches (266.7 x 199.4 cm)
A Colaris print on velour carpet by Thomas Ruff, titled d.o.pe.06, dated 2022.

Thomas Ruff

d.o.pe.06, 2022
Colaris on velour carpet
105 1/4 x 78 3/8 inches (267.3 x 199.1 cm)

“Any computer-based engagement with images will eventually lead either to abstraction, or to the production of virtual forms, or both. Ruff has accepted this logic, but in ways that allow the spectres of photography’s past to haunt his work.”

—David Campany, Thomas Ruff, Whitechapel Gallery, 2017

A detail of a carpet by Thomas Ruff, titled d.o.pe.06, dated 2022

Thomas Ruff, d.o.pe.06, 2022 (detail)

Thomas Ruff, d.o.pe.06, 2022 (detail)

Image courtesy Raptis Rare Books of the First edition of Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception, dated 1954.

First edition of Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception, 1954. Image courtesy Raptis Rare Books

First edition of Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception, 1954. Image courtesy Raptis Rare Books

The series’ title references Aldous Huxley’s 1954 autobiographical volume The Doors of Perception, in which Huxley details his experiments with mind-altering drugs, ultimately meditating on the broadening of consciousness through artificial means.

In fact, Huxley drew his title from a line in William Blake’s poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

An Installation view, Thomas Ruff: d.o.pe., David Zwirner, New York, dated 2022

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: d.o.pe., David Zwirner, New York, 2022

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: d.o.pe., David Zwirner, New York, 2022

“In this manner of wandering about the ‘universe of technical images,’ one can imagine Ruff as a flâneur. With a meandering attention, he pursues certain interests, but he also draws inspiration from accidental finds, while being stirred to reflect. Once his attention becomes focused on a particular object, Ruff changes roles and becomes a researcher.”

—Susanne Holschbach, Thomas Ruff, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, 2020

A Colaris print on velour carpet by Thomas Ruff, titled d.o.pe.03 I, dated 2022.

Thomas Ruff

d.o.pe.03 I, 2022
Colaris on velour carpet
105 1/4 x 78 1/4 inches (267.3 x 198.8 cm)
A Colaris print on velour carpet by Thomas Ruff, d.o.pe.06 I, dated 2022.

Thomas Ruff

d.o.pe.06 I, 2022
Colaris on velour carpet
105 1/2 x 78 3/8 inches (268 x 199.1 cm)

The artist’s longstanding interest in the visual expression of mathematics can be seen in earlier series such as zycles, substrats, and photograms.

An Installation view, Thomas Ruff: Metaphotography., MAMC+, Musee d'Art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Etienne, dated2022

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: Metaphotography, MAMC+, Musee d'Art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Etienne, 2022

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: Metaphotography, MAMC+, Musee d'Art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Etienne, 2022

An Installation view, Thomas Ruff: Metaphotography., MAMC+, Musee d'Art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Etienne, dated 2022

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: Metaphotography, MAMC+, Musee d'Art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Etienne, 2022

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: Metaphotography, MAMC+, Musee d'Art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Etienne, 2022

An Installation view, Thomas Ruff: photograms and ma.r.s., David Zwirner, New York, dated 2013

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: photograms and ma.r.s., David Zwirner, New York, 2013

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: photograms and ma.r.s., David Zwirner, New York, 2013

An Installation view, Thomas Ruff, David Zwirner, New York, dated 2010

Installation view, Thomas Ruff, David Zwirner, New York, 2010

Installation view, Thomas Ruff, David Zwirner, New York, 2010

A Colaris print on velour carpet by Thomas Ruff, titled d.o.pe.09 I, dated 2022.

Thomas Ruff

d.o.pe.09 I, 2022
Colaris on velour carpet
105 1/4 x 77 1/2 inches (267.3 x 196.8 cm)

“[Ruff’s] work eschews the banal monumentality-for-its-own-sake approach to recent large-scale photography, most of which appears to show everything but tends to reveal nothing that is seriously analytical about the optical complexity of the pictorial form of photographic production.”

—Okwui Enwezor, Thomas Ruff: Works 1979–2011, Haus der Kunst, 2012

An Installation view, Thomas Ruff: d.o.pe., David Zwirner, New York, dated 2022

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: d.o.pe., David Zwirner, New York, 2022

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: d.o.pe., David Zwirner, New York, 2022

A Colaris print on velour carpet by Thomas Ruff, titled d.o.pe.04 I, dated 2022.

Thomas Ruff

d.o.pe.04 I, 2022
Colaris on velour carpet
132 x 98 1/2 inches (335.3 x 250.2 cm)

These works—with their endlessly repeating structures offering a sensorial environment in which the mind can wander—manifest the type of imagery Ruff imagines that he might like to have seen during his teenage experimentations. This is reinforced by the artist’s use of velour carpets as a support. Hung directly on the wall, they imbue the imagery with a physical presence and texture.

A Colaris print on velour carpet by Thomas Ruff, titled d.o.pe.01, dated 2022.

Thomas Ruff

d.o.pe.01, 2022
Colaris on velour carpet
105 x 78 1/2 inches (266.7 x 199.4 cm)
A Colaris print on velour carpet by Thomas Ruff, titled d.o.pe.09, dated 2022.

Thomas Ruff

d.o.pe.09, 2022
Colaris on velour carpet
105 1/2 x 78 3/8 inches (268 x 199.1 cm)
A detail of a carpet by Thomas Ruff,  titled d.o.pe.09, dated 2022

Thomas Ruff, d.o.pe.09, 2022 (detail)

Thomas Ruff, d.o.pe.09, 2022 (detail)

Ruff’s images additionally recall the highly detailed style of Northern Renaissance artists such as Hieronymus Bosch and Matthias Grünewald, particularly Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights (1490–1500), a painting that has long fascinated the artist for its ability to merge the real and the imagined.

An artwork by Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1490-1500, Museo del Prado, Madrid

Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1490-1500, Museo del Prado, Madrid

Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1490-1500, Museo del Prado, Madrid

An artwork by Matthias Grünewald, titled Isenheim Altarpiece (fully open position), c. 1515, Unterlinden Museum, Colmar

Matthias Grünewald, Isenheim Altarpiece (fully open position), c. 1515, Unterlinden Museum, Colmar

Matthias Grünewald, Isenheim Altarpiece (fully open position), c. 1515, Unterlinden Museum, Colmar

“Ruff’s approach is, in fact, Duchampian to its core. It is Marcel Duchamp’s intervention into modernism and modernity—one in which photography and mechanical technologies of reproduction were centrally implicated—that structures Ruff’s working method.”

—Sarah James, Thomas Ruff, Whitechapel Gallery, 2017

An Installation view, Thomas Ruff: Metaphotography., MAMC+, Musee d'Art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Etienne, dated 2022

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: Metaphotography, MAMC+, Musee d'Art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Etienne, 2022

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: Metaphotography, MAMC+, Musee d'Art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Etienne, 2022

An Installation view, Thomas Ruff: Metaphotography., MAMC+, Musee d'Art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Etienne, dated 2022

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: Metaphotography, MAMC+, Musee d'Art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Etienne, 2022

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: Metaphotography, MAMC+, Musee d'Art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Etienne, 2022

An Installation view, Thomas Ruff: Metaphotography., MAMC+, Musee d'Art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Etienne, dated 2022

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: Metaphotography, MAMC+, Musee d'Art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Etienne, 2022

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: Metaphotography, MAMC+, Musee d'Art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Etienne, 2022

The exhibition immediately follows Thomas Ruff: Metaphotography at MAMC+, the artist’s first solo museum presentation in France. Featuring over one hundred works from seventeen series, the exhibition formed a chronology of the various types of imagery and technical processes that Ruff investigates.

A Colaris print on velour carpet by Thomas Ruff, titled d.o.pe.03 II, dated 2022.

Thomas Ruff

d.o.pe.03 II, 2022
Colaris on velour carpet
105 1/4 x 78 1/4 inches (267.3 x 198.8 cm)

“Inherent to Thomas Ruff’s photographs is thus a decisive critical moment regarding the sense of the image. They demand that we stay in motion . . . Ruff’s series turn us into seekers who follow the tracks that have led not only to ever larger, ever sharper, and ever more differentiated images in the history of photography . . .”

—Falk Wolf, Thomas Ruff, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, 2020

An Installation view, Thomas Ruff: d.o.pe., David Zwirner, New York, dated 2022

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: d.o.pe., David Zwirner, New York, 2022

Installation view, Thomas Ruff: d.o.pe., David Zwirner, New York, 2022

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