Wolfgang Tillmans: Artist Portrait

Wolfgang Tillmans

Born 1968.

Wolfgang Tillmans Biography

The German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans, who was born in 1968, has garnered a near unparalleled level of acclaim and exerted a profound level of influence within contemporary art today. Having studied at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design in England, his early works from the 1990s focused on documenting various subcultures, such as youth culture, club scenes, and LGBTQ+ culture. His candid, straightforward, and, ultimately, honest photographs have drawn the attention of critics, curators, and collectors the world over.

Within Tillmans ever-evolving practice, he has incorporated elements of abstraction, and added certain diaristic elements to his photographs. Through the use of either oblique angles or unexpected subject matter, Tillmans is able to produce images that are disquieting through their unstable use of the familiar and the unknown – describing his work, he has said, “I want the pictures to be working in both directions.”

Tillmans’s work has seen a near unprecedented level of popularity within the past decades, with institutions exhibiting his work consistently and enthusiastically. In 2000, he was awarded the prestigious Turner Prize, the first non-British photographer to do so, and in 2015 he was the recipient of the Hasselblad Award. In 2017, the Tate Modern, London, held his first career retrospective; that same year he had dual solo exhibitions in New York, one at the Museum of Modern Art and the other at its sister institution MoMA PS1. Today, Tillmans divides his time between Berlin and London where he lives and works.

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Museums with Works by Wolfgang Tillmans

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