deruytterNoted Belgian photographer, Wouter Deruytter, currently lives and works in New York. Having spent much of his career capturing images of vanishing and fading cultures around the world, he is especially known for his photographs of people in the masks and costumes of their identities. Using his camera as a “mask.” Deruytter’s work takes him into the closed worlds and marginal societies of such groups as Egyptian circus performers, New York drag queens and rich Arab oil sheikhs. While the lives of his subjects may seem theatrical or  eccentric, Deruytter’s noble images make no judgments, but merely attempt to offer objective documentation. In 1997, his attention turned to the American West. The result was published in his book,Cowboy Code.

Deruytter’s discovery of photography came at the age of 17 during a Belgian television strike when they continuously broadcast Roman Polanski movies. “I wanted to be Polanski.” While still in art school at Ghent’s Royal Academy, he began his first series of photographs of Brussels nightlife and a collaboration with artist Keith Haring. From Belgium, he went to New York to study at the International Center of Photography. Since then, Deruytter has been traveling and taking pictures. His work has been exhibited extensively in museums and galleries worldwide.

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