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Wolfgang Tillmans

Wolfgang Tillmans

*  1968 Remscheid

Wolfgang Tillmans is a fast-starter. Within just a few years, he succeeds in rising from a young German provincial photographer to become the star of the international art scene. Even before his study from 1990-92 at the Bournemouth & Poole College of Art and Design, Tillmans has a number of small exhibitions and is published in various 'Zeitgeist' magazines. This crossover between photographic art and lifestyle remains a noticeable constant in his work. At first glance, Tillmans' pictures look like snapshots, authentic documents of a metropolitan subculture. In fact, they are carefully staged interpretations of reality. Tillmans translates his personal experiences and sensations into pictures. He photographs what he loves. His glance is without cynical distance. The people know that they are being photographed. They are not objects - they are accomplices who are helping Tillmans to present his subjective view of reality. This honesty in the generating process is what gives the pictures their warmth and credibility. For exhibitions, Tillmans combines the photographs of people with still life photos, cityscapes and landscapes to create spacious collages. Without glass or frame, he simply sticks the pictures to the wall. The colour enlargements adjoin torn-out newspaper pages and ink-jet prints. In the museum too. Tillmans strives for pure expression, without idealisation or excess. With this style, he has a definitive effect on the aesthetics of the nineties and become the model for a whole generation. In 1993, his first major exhibition is held at Daniel Buchholz in Cologne, followed in 1995 by the Kunsthalle, Zurich, and the Portikus, Frankfurt, and then the Kunstmuseum, Wolfsburg, in 1996. In the same year, he also shows his works at the "New Photography" group exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Tillmans is the first photographer to win the Turner Prize, in 2001, which is one of the most significant awards for contemporary art.