A Thousand Words: Thomas Ruff Talks about "L.M.V.D.R."

By Jones, Ronald | Artforum International, Summer 2001 | Go to article overview

A Thousand Words: Thomas Ruff Talks about "L.M.V.D.R."


Jones, Ronald, Artforum International


Long before the renovations of Krefeld's Haus Lange and Haus Esters were completed last summer, Julian Heynen was planning the inaugural exhibition. He wanted the show to respect the two houses' use for more than fifteen years as museums of contemporary art and at the same time engage with Mies van der Rohe's architecture. Julian has known my work for years, and because I've made a lot of pictures with architecture in them, he offered me the opening show.

When I did my first architectural series, in 1987-91, I chose the typical, undistinguished buildings my generation grew up surrounded by. I thought that high architecture might overshadow the image itself, that a Mies building would be too beautiful. I was worried that there would be too much Mies and too little Ruff. But after gaining experience making various series in the meantime, I thought I could transform even Mies architecture into a Ruff image. When Julian proposed the project in 1999, I realized I was ready for Mies--that I could make his architecture look different from the way it had appeared in previous photographs.

We decided to work on two Mies buildings that were near-contemporaries--the Barcelona Pavilion (completed in 1929) and Haus Tugendhat, in Brno, Czech Republic (1930)--as well as Haus Lange and Haus Esters. My idea now was to work in several modes: straight architectural shots, interior photographs like the ones I was making twenty years ago, stereoscopic photographs, and computer-manipulated images. Some of the computer alterations were done to create the impression of speed--something modernity has always been closely associated with. When Mies's German Pavilion was built for the 1929 International Exposition, it must have looked like a UFO had landed in Barcelona. Speed in photography is always blurry, and my picture of the German Pavilion looks like a high-speed locomotive--modernity arriving at the train station of the present (albeit the present of 1929).

When Terence Riley saw some of these images, he asked me if I would work on the rest of Mies's buildings in Berlin and Stuttgart for MOMA'S upcoming show "Mies in Berlin." So I began shooting those buildings too, but I couldn't photograph all of them--some were obstructed by trees or by traffic and parked cars. So another mode appeared: using archival material. At first I thought I might hand-color some old black-and white prints, but in the end I did all the alterations on the computer.

In this way, I have tried to do a contemporary-art exhibition about architecture from the past, using every technique available to contemporary photography. The computer is a great new tool for photography, an extension of the darkroom, allowing you to alter color, resolution, parts of the image, or even the whole thing. For the Krefeld show I was playing with issues surrounding the documentary aspects of architectural photography. What was in front of the camera is not what you see in the images, because I altered about 90 percent of them. In some I took out the color and made a new sky. In one there appears to be a ghost (is it Mies?), which was originally a bad exposure that I guided into an intention, let's say. The curtain in the Barcelona Pavilion is red, but I wondered what would happen if it were blue or green.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Thousand Words: Thomas Ruff Talks about "L.M.V.D.R."
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.