Ruff Trade

Thomas Ruff, Nudes in03 2000
photo: Thomas Ruff, courtesy of Zwirner & Wirth
Thomas Ruff, Nudes in03 2000


Thomas Ruff
David Zwirner
43 Greene Street
Through May 30
Zwirner & Wirth
32 East 69th Street
Through June 24

Blurring and distorting his sources, Ruff has seemingly sprinkled the magic dust of painting into his art. If the first names that come to you aren't John Holmes and Linda Lovelace, they might be Courbet, de Kooning, or, most of all, Gerhard Richter. Without Richter, these things wouldn't exist. Technology and medium make Ruff's work different, but the imagery is unmistakable, and the out-of-focus sexuality stands directly in Richter's shadow. Two blondes—one lying provocatively on a bed, another looking out from under her hair—are near-recapitulations of early Richter paintings. I guess if you're German, Richter's the one you want to go up against. Remarkably, the comparison doesn't diminish Ruff's work. Reconverting that which has had a second, third, or fourth life as videotape, Internet pixels, or paintings back into the photographs they once were, Ruff sets up a trippy, technoerotic aesthetic feedback loop. Hopefully these stirring pictures signal a return to excellence.

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