Thomas Ruff Photographs 1979 – 2017 @ Whitechapel Gallery

At the Whitechapel Gallery FINISHED

Thomas Ruff is having a moment in England. Not only is this retrospective the first major one in London, but the National Portrait Gallery is also exhibiting his huge early portraits of his classmates in the 1980’s.

Ruff’s oeuvre seems complicated, he explores many different themes and seemingly jumps from subject to subject. But, once you know the key to his work, it is easier to connect to dots. The secret is - he is constantly asking what is photography? It is a means to represent identity - as with those early portraits of his classmates. It is a scientific tool - as in the photographs of the surface of Mars captured by Nasa in space? It is a news outlet - as in the newspaper photographs that he reproduces without headlines or captions? Though each of these investigations, Ruff reaffirms the power of photography within our world.

Don’t miss the only work which depicts the artist himself: L’Empereur (1982), a sequence of images that show Ruff slumped over two chairs.

Ruff is represented by David Zwirner.

by Sophia Brenninkmeyer - see more reviews

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Info & hours


Monday: CLOSED

Tuesday: 10am– 6 pm

Wednesday: 10am– 6 pm

Thursday: 10am– 9 pm (LATE NIGHT)

Friday: 10am –6 pm

Saturday: 10am– 6 pm

Sunday: 10am– 6 pm

Tickets from: £12.50