Zwirner & Wirth and David Zwirner are pleased to present a two-part exhibition of the newest series l.m.v.d.r. by German artist Thomas Ruff.
The series l.m.v.d.r.–the initials of renowned 20th century modernist architect Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe (1886-1969)–began as a commission offered to Ruff in 1999-2000 in connection with the renovation of Haus Lange and Haus Esters in Krefeld, Germany. Having worked with architectural subject matter since the mid-1980s, Ruff was enlisted to photograph the Krefeld buildings as well as the Barcelona Pavilion and the Villa Tugendhat in Brno. Given the freedom to choose how the buildings would be rendered, Ruff was faced with the challenge of discovering a new way to capture these all-too-familiar and heavily documented monuments.
As in the spirit of Van der Rohe, who emphasized "not the what but the how," Ruff continues a conceptual line of how images are created. Fusing traditional elements with technological innovation, the photographs are both straight film and manipulated digital photography. Perception is of fundamental concern. By maneuvering camera angles and manipulating focus and color, Ruff heightens the reality that these are images of actual and historical sites. Works like d.p.b 01 and d.p.b 08 (Barcelona Pavilion, 1928-29) illustrate Ruff's investigation of how we experience a man-made structure placed into a natural setting. d.p.b 01 underscores Van der Rohe's keen sense of line and space, revealing how he sought to blur the boundaries between inside and outside by using new materials such as glass in place of opaque walls. In d.p.b 08, Ruff blurs the photograph and obliterates any true distinction between building and environment, mirroring the architect's ambivalence towards the traditional spatial relationship.
Often faced with conditions unsuitable for shooting on-site, Ruff decided to experiment with archival photographs. Here the computer effects are paramount, as Ruff subjects the documentary photographs to a wide array of digital manipulation, including an adaptation of photomontage. These works do not aim to record the physical reality of the buildings, but rather to embrace the spirit of innovation so particular to the creations of Mies Van der Rohe.
In the works of the Villa Tugendhat in Brno, Ruff photographed, for the first time, large-scale interiors, outfitted with the original Van der Rohe furniture. For many of the buildings, Ruff made a series of small interior photographs, a subject matter dating back to his earliest work at the Düsseldorf Künstakademie in the late 1970s, where he studied under the conceptual photographers Bernd & Hilla Becher.
The exhibitions will include the most recent works from the l.m.v.d.r. series, some of which are included in the exhibition Mies in Berlin at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (through September 11).