PRINT April 2003

’80s THEN

Thomas Ruff

DANIEL BIRNBAUM: You were a student in photography at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Was it clear from the start that you wanted to concentrate on photography, or were you also interested in other mediums?

THOMAS RUFF: No, no. I came from a small town in southern Germany and really had no idea about contemporary art. I wanted to be a photographer, and to me that meant traveling the world in search of great shots of beautiful people and beautiful landscapes. Naive as I was, I said to myself, the most beautiful of all photographs must be made at the Academy, where the beautiful paintings are painted. So without being at all interested in art per se, I applied for the photography class at Düsseldorf, and strangely enough I was accepted into Bernd Becher’s class.

Thomas Ruff, 1986. Photo: Bernd Jünger.

DB: He was a rather new professor at the Academy at that point, no?

TR: He started in 1976; I

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