Isabella Myers' Archive

archive module 12

Posted on: May 4, 2010

5 images

Opie, Catherine

Bo from the Portraits series
Chromogenic print
60 x 30 inches
152.4 x 76.2 cm

Opie, Catherine

Justin Bond from the Portraits series
chromogenic print
20 x 16 inches

Opie, Catherine

Angela Scheirl from the Portraits series
Chromogenic print
20 x 16 inches
(50.8 x 40.6 cm)

all Catherine Opie images from

Condo, George

Darkness, 2009
Oil on linen
165,1 x 165,1 cm

Condo, George

Young Girl, 2009
Oil on linen
165,1 x 165,1 cm

All George Condo images from

1 song

Why do you let me stay here? by She & Him

1 video

Directed by Arev Manoukian


excerpt from interview with Thomas Ruff published in Journal of Contemporary Art found at

Pocock: What do you mean by real reality?

Ruff: Photography has been used for all kinds of interests for the past 150 years. Most of the photos we come across today aren’t really authentic anymore–they have the authenticity of a manipulated and prearranged reality. You have to know the conditions of a particular photograph in order to understand it properly because the camera just copes what is in front of it.

Pocock: Why did photography become so important in the art world?

Ruff: Maybe it’s a question of generations. My generation, maybe the generation before, grew up with photography, television, magazines. The surrounding is different from a hundred years ago. Photography became the most influential medium in the Western world. So nowadays you don’t have to paint to be an artist. You can use photography in a realistic, sachlich way. You can even do abstract photographs. It’s become autonomous.

Pocock: There’s little personality in your portraits, little use in the buildings, and a skepticism in photography’ ability to communicate anything real in the Stars. Does this mean photography is empty in a traditional sense?

Ruff: It’s empty in it sense of capturing real reality. But, for example, if I make a portrait, people say that there’s little personality in it. They say that. But in a way there is because I know all of the people I photograph. Maybe the problem is that if in the same way I had photographed a famous person, it would be a different looking picture because we know another thing about this person.

Pocock: So they’re anonymous . . .

Ruff: They’re anonymous to you.

1 new artist

Lucian Freud

Alternative to Thomas Ruff’s cold and sterile portraits, Lucian Freud’s portraits are full of life:

“A British painter, with German roots, the son of an architect and the grandson of the founder of psychoanalysis, Lucian Freud emigrated to the United Kingdom with his family in 1932, fleeing from the antisemitic tide that had taken over in his home country.

The body of his work is composed almost exclusively of portraits in which he voluptuously undresses his model. The models are almost always friends or lovers, and he paints them with deliberate parsimony, always in natural settings, in order to capture their instincts while they pose. Freud has said about this that he wants his paintings to have “the same effect as flesh.”

Although in his youth his work showed an undeniable Surrealistic influence, his evolution turned towards representation similar to the reasoning of Otto Dix and Oscar Kokoschka in the New Objectivity movement. However, he would not achieve his most genuine language until he had formed a close relationship with Auerbach and Bacon, two painters with whom he formed part of the so called School of London.

It was Francis Bacon who encouraged him to immerse himself in pictorial material with complete freedom from the requirements of the drawing. His brushstrokes became coarse and angular but without betraying his taste for details. Freud’s work is intimate, piercing, distressing. His models’ flaccid bodies disturb the spectator with their autobiographical intensity that is almost always far from any sexual intention. He did not paint a nude portrait of himself until he was well into his 70s.

His shows at the Marlborough gallery have given him resounding success that has continued to grow since the excellent retrospective show that visited Washington, Paris, London and Berlin in the 1980s. His work smashes price records at every new auction, and nobody disputes the fact that today Lucian Freud is, in his own right, one of the most respected figures in contemporary Art.”

It seems to me that where Thomas Ruff feels an obligation to be aware that his photographs are merely representation, Lucian Freud struggles to transcend the representation and somehow transfer the flesh to the canvas. With nude subjects portrayed in a manner that stray as far away as possible from gratuitous, the viewer can then distinguish these images from a pornographic context, with which I think at least contemporary society associate the nude. In these settings of raw fleshy appearance, the viewer is forced into a certain context with which to view this person. This is actually quite similar to Thomas Ruff in the sense that Ruff uses his clean sterile atmospheres to force the viewer into realizing that these are falsified atmospheres, and indeed the only person who knows this subject is the photographer himself. So where Ruff and Freud’s goals are very separate, their means of manipulating the setting and context with style and intention mirror one another.

Naked Girl Asleep II
1968 (130 Kb); Oil on canvas, 55.8 x 55.8 cm; Private collection

For example, this woman is entirely stripped of her erotic control. She is vulnerable, and indeed, fleshy.

Reflection (self portrait)
1985 (150 Kb); Oil on canvas, 56.2 x 51.2 cm; Private collection

Girl with a white dog
1951-52 (140 Kb); Oil on canvas, 76.2 x 101.6 cm; Tate Gallery, London


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: