The photographic work of Charles Ruger serves as a window into a rarified world that is at once enviable and dark, glorious and tragic, grand and doomed. This atmosphere of duality is expressed through his studies in portraiture and circumstance.
In the tradition of such historic social portraitists as John Singer Sargent, Andy Warhol and Slim Aarons, Ruger's subjects are fledgling icons in the worlds of art, music, literature, film, fashion, and Society. However, he is not solely concerned with those shaping culture today, but also with the descendents of those who decidedly influenced the 20th century. As W magazine has stated, "If the greatest society portraitists are insiders, it's no wonder that Charles Ruger has lured Serena Boardman, Allison Sarofim and Ivanka Trump into his lens."
As a counterpart to his portraits, Ruger captures images of grand interior and exterior spaces as fleeting views of the international environments through which his subjects move. Drawing rooms and stair halls of European hotels and private villas figure into these series, as do urban landscapes of American skyscrapers and apartment house facades.
In regarding both the series of portraiture and circumstance as a whole, Ruger intends for a narrative to unfold. While his icons are monumental, stylized and glorified, their natural habitats are decidedly more askew. These are spaces and vistas where something has gone awry, as seen through a veil of hallucinogens, alcohol or malaise. Though the characters are offered to the viewer as pristine monuments of an era, the haunting patina of their corresponding surroundings indicates that not all is right in their world.
Charles Ruger studied art history and politics at Connecticut College and Columbia University. He is a self-taught photographer whose work figures into private and corporate collections internationally. He lives and works in New York City.