Born 1938 in Düsseldorf, Rückriem apprenticed as a stonecutter in Düren, then worked as a journeyman at the Dombauhütte workshops of Cologne Cathedral. Later, due to his tight association with Gallery Konrad Fischer, Düsseldorf, he came into contact with artists and colleagues like Carl Andre, Richard Long, Sol LeWitt, Royden Rabinovich. For a few years he shared a studio with Blinky Palermo, before he started his academic career, at Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg (starting from 1974), from 1984 on at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, and finally at Städelschule.
Rückriem became famous for his minimalist giant stone sculptures and drawings. He is probably the only artist in the world whose works can be seen even from space. Exhibitions i.a.: Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Paula Cooper Gallery,Royal Colege of Art Galleries, Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach,Whitechapel Art Gallery, Neue National Galerie Berlin,Serpentine Gallery London, Galerie Max Hetzler, Kunsthalle Bremen, Portikus Frankfurt a.M., Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, Kunstmuseum Bern, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánei Santiago de Compostala, Skulpturenpark Köln, Kewenig Galerie Köln, Konrad Fischer Galerie Düsseldorf, National Museum of Modern Art EMST Athens, Ludwig Museen Köln + Aachen, NCCA Moscow, Bernier Eliades Athens, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia Madrid, Kunstmuseum Winterthur, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth Texas, Centre Pompidou.