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Wolfgang Tillmans

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Wolfgang Tillmans

Wolfgang Tillmans was born in Remscheid, Germany, in 1968 and studied at Bournemouth & Poole College of Art and Design. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of his generation. His work, whilst appearing to capture the immediacy of the moment and character of the subject, also examines the dynamics of photographic representation. From the outset he ignored the traditional separation of art exhibited in a gallery from images and ideas conveyed through other forms of publication, giving equal weight to both. His expansive floor to ceiling installations feature images of subcultures and political movements, as well as portraits, landscapes, still lifes and abstract imagery varying in scale from postcard- to wall-sized prints. His work is in the collections of numerous international museums including The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Centre Pompidou, Paris, the National Museum of Modern Art, Osaka, Nationalgalerie, Berlin, and Tate, London, and was included in the Venice Biennale 2009. He was awarded the Turner Prize in 2000, the Hasselblad Award in 2014 and the Kaiserring der Stadt Goslar in 2018.

Wolfgang Tillmans

The German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans is an underground icon, known for his work which defies genre and is distinguished by an ongoing investigation into the photographic medium; both its historic foundations and future innovations. Tillmans has exhibited extensively and lives between London and Berlin, where he also runs his own gallery space Between Bridges. He was the first photographer - and the first non-English person - to be awarded the Turner Prize.

Wolfgang Tillmans first gained attention for his casual looking, snapshot like portraits of friends (most notably, fashion designer Lutz Huelle and artist Alexandra Bircken). His photos have appeared in magazines such as i-D, Spex, Interview, SZ-Magazin, and Butt Magazine, and established his reputation as a documentarian of his generation, particularly of the London club and gay scenes. As a boy Tillmans was taken by the work of contemporary artists Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol and on a visit to England he discovered British youth culture, including fashion and music magazines, which would heavily influence his work. Tillmans’ art embraces all forms of photography, including photocopies, abstraction, portraits, still life, sky photographs, astrophotography, aerial shots, and landscapes. Together these genres are bound by an intimate observation of the artist’s surroundings and motivated by social issues, especially queer politics and gender identity. Recently Tillmans has moved to working almost exclusively with digital photography and developed an installation style where unframed photos, inkjet prints, postcards, and magazine clippings are pinned or taped to the gallery walls in nonhierarchical arrangements.

TASCHEN’s books on Tillmans’ work like Neue Welt collect diverse images taken by the photographer from all around the globe. Recently the artist photographed musician Frank Ocean for his hit album Blonde and launched an anti-Brexit campaign in anticipation of the UK’s referendum to exit the EU. Tillmans' practice is always engaged with the contemporary moment. From behind the camera, he captures intimate portraits of the world and the lives of its inhabitants.