TILLMANS WOLFGANG

REMSCHEID, GERMANY [1968]

Wolfgang Tillmans is a German fine-art photographer. His diverse body of work is distinguished by observation of his surroundings and an ongoing investigation of the photographic medium’s foundations.

Tillmans was the first photographer - and also the first non-English person - to be awarded the Tate annual Turner Prize. He has also been awarded the Hasselblad Award and is a member of the Royal Academy of Arts. Tillmans lives in Berlin and London.

Tillmans was initially known for his seemingly casual, sometimes snapshotlike portraits of friends (most notably, fashion designer Lutz Huelle and fellow artist Alexandra Bircken) and other youth in his immediate surroundings and scene. His photos – from the Europride in London (1992) or the Love Parade in Berlin (1992) for example – appeared in magazines such as i-D, Spex, Interview, SZ-Magazin and Butt-Magazine, and have established his reputation as a prominent witness of a contemporary social movement. He was made co-editor of Spex in 1997. For the Index Magazine, he shot covers and assignments, including images of John Waters, Gilbert & George, and Udo Kier.

Tillmans was considered the “documentarian of his generation, especially that of the London club and gay scenes.” Half of his work is staged, with the artist choosing the clothes and the location, as well as setting his models up in their positions. The series of his friends Lutz and Alex, also published in i-D in 1992, are considered important photographic documents of the 1990s. From 1992 to 1994 Tillmans lived and worked in London, moving to New York in 1994. During this time, he began to show more frequently, developing an exhibition style that consisted of nonhierarchical arrangements of unframed photographs pinned or taped onto the gallery’s walls. Color photographs are placed next to inkjet prints and next to postcards and magazine clippings of his own images, reaching almost to the ceiling and the floor. He views each exhibition as a site-specific installation, often addressing the exhibition space as a larger composition.