Wolfgang Tillmans

b.1968, Remscheid, Germany. Lives and works in London and Berlin


Wolfgang Tillmans
Wolfgang Tillmans, Berlin Installation 1995-2000, 2000, installation view You Are Looking at Something That Never Occurred, 2017. Photo: Thierry Bal


Wolfgang Tillmans is one of the most significant artists of his generation, testing the possibilities of photographic image making and exhibition display. In the late 1980s his work began to feature in small gallery spaces and the pages of style and culture magazines such as i-D. Featuring friends and acquaintances in unguarded moments, his striking aesthetic of low-key beauty offered a new direction for the documentary tradition and reflected an atmosphere of underground creativity and identity politics. An ongoing response to place has been central to Tillmans’ approach, with works emerging from time spent in cities such as Cologne, Bournemouth, Berlin, Paris and London. In a series of works from 2000, Tillmans documented details of commuters on the Underground, with the cropped postures of the passengers subtly indicating social and emotional states. Consistently exploring a wide array of genre, he interweaves still life, landscape and abstraction into is constellation of images, rejecting a sense of hierarchy or purism. Alongside formal experimentation with non-camera dark room processes Tillmans has remained keenly attuned to social realities and shifting political pressures, and he is an outspoken campaigner in addition to a maker of installations. Discussing the breadth of his work, Tillmans explains 'I take pictures in order to see the world'.