Wolfgang Tillmans

Wolfgang Tillmans
Date of birth
Place of birth
Remscheid/North Rhine-Westphalia/Germany
After a period living and working in Hamburg (1987–90), Tillmans studied at the Bournemouth and Poole College of Art (1990–92), and then settled in London. In 1995, at the end of a year in New York, he won both the ars viva Prize from the Kulturkreis der Deutschen Wirtschaft and the Bremen Böltcherstrasse Prize. In 1998 he was appointed guest professor at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Hamburg. In the late 1980s Tillmans began making photographs that constitute an intriguing hybrid of fashion photography and documentary reportage. Working at first with Hamburg-based style and fashion journals, he took photographs of the European club scene. In 1988 he began an extensive collaboration with the British lifestyle magazine i-D, in whose pages he published much of his work. His subjects range from intimate still-lifes to portraits of friends and celebrities, referring often explicitly to his involvement with political issues such as homelessness, racism and gay rights. He exhibits his images in carefully constructed wall montages, mixing ink-jet prints with photographs and pages taken from the magazines, for instance in the exhibition I Didn’t Inhale (London, Chisenhale, 1997). Such presentation demonstrates the close interaction of art and publishing in his work. The effect of these montages, often using the same image in successive installations, serves not only to give equal value to the photographic print and mass-produced magazine page, but also to reject a hierarchy in the subject-matter, so that a well-known personality such as Blur’s singer Damon Albarn can be placed next to an unknown sitter. He was awarded the Turner Prize in 2000.

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