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Francis Ruyter

Picture Generation
2–14 August 2021

Francis Ruyter, Walker Evans
Walker Evans: Sharecropper Bud Fields and his family at home. Hale County, Alabama, 2010,
acrylic on canvas, 150x180cm. Photo: courtesy Bildrecht

Course format
Hybrid class

Either Fortress Hohensalzburg (on site) or online*

Teaching Language
English (German also available)

What to bring
Laptop/tablet with camera and microphone, personal materials (pictures or things looked at regularly, which have a strong relationship to personal ideas about art, either directly or indirectly), finished or nearly finished work, materials for new work.


Maximum number of participants
12 on site, 6 online

Teaching assistant
Oliver Riedel

Participation fee
€ 640,– (€ 480,–)

Artists often keep an archive of images around their workspace for inspiration. But what is the relationship and process between looking at something and integrating that into art practice, whether it is a literal or abstract integration? What is it that makes a portrait of a person sitting for that portrait so magnetic? Looking is a tool that can be used when one is lost for an idea of where to start making an artwork, or it can function as a foundation, grounding us well to be able to depart on flights of fantasy.

Looking is far from a passive activity. If looking is, therefore, a productive activity, we can improve the impact of an individual work by developing perceptive skills along with artistic ones. We will consider the possibility of collectivity in these processes. With the global acceleration of image production, can we do something to mediate, or even transform this collective looking into something more productive than it often feels, or do we need to hold on to and treasure the private sphere of immediate experiences? Perception is perhaps less about fixed truths and realities than about world-building. What does it mean when we want to make a connection outside the world that we have built around ourselves?

In the class, students learn to focus on using their eyes to push their work forward. Different artworks are analysed in the context of such an approach. Through regular practice of object description, the student will be armed with an ability to speak about how a work functions as a communication vehicle. This shared activity can uncover surprises and practical knowledge for improving the ability to transmit information in any chosen medium.

The class meetings will be a conversational rather than a lecture format. Special guests explore how they have integrated looking into their practice. There will also be time for studio work and individual consultations.

*If necessary, the course may be held exclusively online.

Francis Ruyter was born in Washington DC (US) in 1968. He works with issues of style and recognition behind image-making and connects this activity to social and technological forces driving contemporary experience and historical archiving.

The work he is best known for takes the form of very recognisable painting strategy indexed to photographic sources, using smooth and flat application of unmodulated colour, restrained within a framework drawing consisting of uniformly applied black lines. While it is often described as a ‘signature style,’ he prefers to think of it as a representation of a medium, perhaps somewhere between painting and photography.

In 2008, he began replacing his own photographic source material with the Library of Congress’ FSA/OWI archive of depression-era photographs, conceptually locating ‘the archive’ as subject matter, in place of depicting images sourced from his own lived experience.

Collaborative work with other artists has always been a high priority and an essential part of Ruyter’s artistic practice. He currently lives in Vienna, where he has produced more than 30 exhibitions of other artists’ work since opening Galerie Lisa Ruyter there in 2003.

Solo exhibitions
2020 Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Neuer Kunstverein Wien, Vienna. 2018 Hurricane/Time/Image, FRANZ JOSEFS KAI 3, Vienna. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Galeria Senda, Barcelona (ES). 2015 Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Eleven Rivington, New York, NY (US). 2012 Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, CONNERSMITH, Washington DC. 2012 Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Alan Cristea Gallery, London.

Group exhibitions
2020 God in reverse: When wisdom defies capture, The Richmond Art Galery, Richmond BC (CA). Spaces of no control, Austrian Cultural Forum, New York, NY. 2018 History in the Making, Alan Cristea Gallery, London. 2017 Publishing as an artistic toolbox, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna. 2013 Collezione Maramotti, Painting as a Radical Form, Reggio Emilia, Italy.

1991–92 Graduate Fine Arts Program, Hunter College, New York, NY.
1986–90 School of Visual Arts, New York, NY.
1982–86 MCPS Art Center, Maryland (US). Teaching Current Figurative Painting, The Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, guest professor.
2014 Visiting artist, Temple University Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, PA (US).
2011–12 Expanded Pictorial Space, The Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, guest professor.
2002 Advanced Painting, Cooper Union, undergraduate, New York, NY.
2001 Painting II, Columbia University, undergraduate, New York, NY.
2000 Visiting artist, Temple University Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, PA (US).
2000 Painting II, Maryland Institute, College of Art, Baltimore (US).
1999 Advanced Painting, Cooper Union, undergraduate, New York, NY.
1999 Visiting artist, New York University, graduate, New York, NY.
1998 Visiting artist, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA (US).

Francis Ruyter
Photo: Mira Turba