• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1999

    Post -War And Contemporary Art Afternoon Session

    14 May 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 376

    THOMAS RUFF (B. 1958)

    Substrat 1III

    Price Realised  


    THOMAS RUFF (B. 1958)
    Substrat 1III
    signed, titled, numbered and dated 'Substrat 1III Thomas Ruff 2/3 2001' (on the reverse)
    inkjet on paper face- mounted on Plexiglas, wooden frame
    94 x 74 in. (240 x 190 cm.)
    Executed in 2001. This work is number two from an edition of three plus three artist's proofs.

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    Flirting with photography's boundaries, Thomas Ruff's works testify to multiple practices. Without a camera, negative, or darkroom, the Substrat series was born out of cyberspace and plied into pulsing abstract psychedelic color fields. Derived from images of Japanese anime and manga, the outlines of forms are aglow with exaggerated intensity. The swirling colors are reminiscent of an oil spill in a water illuminated by neon lights. And like the immiscibility of water and oil, the brilliant pixels of electric blue, fiery red, rosy magenta and avocado green are imperviously separate. Ruffs' compositions of digitally altered web based pictures are as tightly controlled and precise as the Bechers' photo grids. Training under the Bechers in the early 1970s, Ruff's photographs are steeped in tradition while using the most sophisticated technologies.

    Although Ruff insists that his photographs capture "only the surface of things," this series reveals a gleaning of things beneath. The title, Substrat, by definition suggests that these images capture photography's essence and foundation and the make up of images in the contemporary world.


    James Cohan Gallery, New York


    M. Winzen, ed., Thomas Ruff 1979 to the Present, 2003, p. 247 (illustrated).