Wolfgang Tillmans born 15 August 1968
Wolfgang Tillmans is a photographer. He has worked for fashion and style magazines as well as showing his work in art galleries.
Born in Remscheid in Germany, Tillmans lived and worked in Hamburg at the end of the 1980s before moving to England. He took a course on photography at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art from 1990 to 1992, and then moved to London. He has subsequently been based in New York, Berlin, and London again.
Even before he moved to England, Tillmans was working for British fashion and style magazines. His work for them was apparently more spontaneous than most magazine photography, often seeming to catch fleeting moments. He typically photographed young people, sometimes clubbers or part of the gay scene, sometimes homeless. His work has often been compared to Nan Goldin who from around the 1980s documented Manhattan's Lower East Side in New York City in a similar snapshot aesthetic way.
His initial work led to some degree of fame in the business, and within a couple of years he was photographing people like Moby and Blur's vocalist Damon Albarn in a similar spontaneous style.
Tillmans' photographs are often exhibited clustered together in groups, thus drawing connections between apparently disparate images. In one installation, for example, an image of Concorde sat alongside a picture of some fruit and a photo portrait.
Tillmans has become one of the most prominent and influential photographers to emerge during the 1990s. He profiles the lifestyles of his immediate circle of friends, working collaboratively with his subjects so that they lose their inhibitions in front of the camera. Tillmans produces raw, confessional images yet stays within the traditional genres of portraiture, landscape and still-life. His ability to produce powerful and sometimes shocking images has brought him success in art galleries and mainstream media alike.
As well as his work being shown in a range of places, both fashion magazines and galleries, Tillmans' work also show a wide range of subject matter. Apart from innocent, and what may be seen by many as rather banal, pictures of fruit or a pair of jeans over a bannister, he has photographed nudes and masturbating men. The kind of prints he exhibits also vary - inkjet prints are shown alongside expensive glossy shots and images taken from magazines.
Tillmans' representations of gay men are an important aspect of his art. While his representations of gay men are more abstracted than the sexualised images of Robert Mapplethorpe, Tillmans presents each of his subjects, including gay men, directly, avoiding the subtle homoeroticism of such fashion photographers as Bruce Weber or Herb Ritts, for example.
Tillmans won the Turner Prize in 2000. He has released a book, Burg. His work has been featured in Arto Lindsay's recording The Subtle Body (1995). The same year his photographs were published in a Taschen book Wolfgang Tillmans (with a preface of Simon Watney).
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