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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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Wolfgang Tillmans

b. 1968, Germany

Since the late 1980s, the work of Wolfgang Tillmans has combined intimacy and playfulness with social commentary, alongside his ongoing interrogation of the foundations of his most-used medium: photography. A seamless fusion of styles, subject matter and modes of display, his bodies of work often challenge familiar and commonly held attitudes towards the photographic medium and processes of contemporary image-making. In 2000, Tillmans—a former student of The Bournemouth & Poole College, England (1990–1992)—became the first photographer and first non-British artist to be awarded the Turner Prize. In 2015, he received the prestigious Hasselblad Award.

Tillmans' debut exhibition in 1988 consisted solely of works produced using the most current monochrome laser-copying technology of the time. He regards these images, which predate his camera photography, as his very first body of work. Over the years, he has made several returns to this method, toying with the relationship between surface, depth and materiality.

During the early 1990s, while living and working in London, Tillmans' work featured in several prominent publications including i-D and Interview. It was around this period that he rose to prominence with his seemingly relaxed, snapshot-like images of young people within his surrounding milieu (including his now-celebrated shots from Europride 1992)—viewed by many as documents of a flourishing queer culture. Despite being considered a chronicler of London's queer and club scenes, Tillmans refutes having the intention to occupy such a position. He notes how, in staging many of his photographs, he controlled the location, costume and poses while still actively trying to disguise the image's artifice.

In 1993, Tillmans presented a show in Cologne with Galerie Buchholz at their adjunct space Buchholz & Buchholz which heralded a new development in the artist's practice. His installation occupied the entire 3m x 3m exhibition space, within which Tillmans placed a range of c-prints, photocopies and magazine spreads to prompt the audience's contemplation of the parallels between different modes of photographic reproduction. In 2016, at Frieze London, Galerie Buchholz drew attention to the turning point in the artist's career by staging a complete reconstruction of the 1993 Cologne exhibition.

Following his move to New York in 1994, Tillmans continued to develop installation methods that non-hierarchically situated frameless images, either taped or pinned, directly onto gallery walls. In this mix, coloured photographs sat adjacent to inkjet prints that, in turn, abutted ephemera such as postcards and magazine clippings of Tillmans' earlier work. Many of these installations, which often reached from floor to ceiling, evince the artist's interest in site-responsive exhibition-making, and his interest in approaching exhibition spaces as backdrops for larger meta-compositions of independent works. During this time, Tillmans' practice spanned a diversity of genres—from still life, portraiture, aerial photography and landscape, to his famous sky photographs, such as those in Concorde Grid (1997).

In 1998, Tillmans presented his abstract pictures for the first time. The presentation consisted of 60 unique images on colour-negative photographic paper, all accumulated since he started producing colour prints in the early 1990s. These abstractions were a mix of darkroom mishaps and the subsequent experiments they inspired. Tillmans further developed an interest in the chemical and material foundations of the photographic medium, along with its tactile and spatial potential. He thus turned the medium into a means of playing with, and discovering anew, modes of image creation. In 2012, Tillmans turned to using digital photography exclusively, as a way of reflecting the information-dense nature of our times through high-definition images.

Over the last three decades, Tillmans has worked with moving image in varying capacities, from his video installation, Lights (Body) (2000–2002), capturing static shots of the light effects inside an empty night club, to a music video for the Pet Shop Boys single, Home and Dry. He has also been involved with several politically-oriented projects, including Between Bridges, a not-for-profit exhibition space that he opened in 2006 to showcase a wide range of political art. Once housed in a former factory in Bethnal Green, it has since shifted to Berlin. In the lead-up to the EU referendum in the United Kingdom in 2016, Tillmans created a series of anti-Brexit poster, shirt and campaign image designs, all made downloadable through his website.

Work by the artist is held in museum collections internationally, including the Centre Pompidou, Paris; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; and Tate, London. Tillmans lives and works in Berlin and London.

Tendai John Mutambu | Ocula | 2017
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Featured Artworks

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Most Beautiful Place I’ve Ever Been by Wolfgang Tillmans contemporary artwork Wolfgang TillmansMost Beautiful Place I’ve Ever Been, 2002 C-print, framed
40.6 x 30.5 cm
Galerie Buchholz
Silvio (U-Bahn) by Wolfgang Tillmans contemporary artwork Wolfgang TillmansSilvio (U-Bahn), 1992 C-print, framed
30.5 x 40.6 cm
Galerie Buchholz
Total Eclipse of the Sun by Wolfgang Tillmans contemporary artwork Wolfgang TillmansTotal Eclipse of the Sun, 2006 C-print, framed
40.6 x 30.5 cm
Galerie Buchholz
On the Verge of Green by Wolfgang Tillmans contemporary artwork Wolfgang TillmansOn the Verge of Green, 2011 Inkjet print, framed
30.5 x 40.6 cm
Galerie Buchholz
sheep shadow by Wolfgang Tillmans contemporary artwork Wolfgang Tillmanssheep shadow, 2012 Inkjet print, framed
30.5 x 40.6 cm
Galerie Buchholz
sprinkled landscape by Wolfgang Tillmans contemporary artwork Wolfgang Tillmanssprinkled landscape, 2018 Inkjet print, framed
40.6 x 30.5 cm
Galerie Buchholz
Shenzhen still life by Wolfgang Tillmans contemporary artwork Wolfgang TillmansShenzhen still life, 2016 Inkjet print, framed
30.5 x 40.6 cm
Galerie Buchholz
still life (Bogota / Berlin) by Wolfgang Tillmans contemporary artwork Wolfgang Tillmansstill life (Bogota / Berlin), 2012 Inkjet print mounted on aluminium, in artist’s frame
79.7 x 63.4 cm
Galerie Buchholz

Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Wolfgang Tillmans, How likely is it that only I am right in this matter? at David Zwirner, New York
Closed
13 September–27 October 2018 Wolfgang Tillmans How likely is it that only I am right in this matter? David Zwirner, 19th Street, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Une collection de photographies at rodolphe janssen, Brussels
Closed
17 May–13 July 2018 Group Exhibition Une collection de photographies rodolphe janssen, Brussels
Contemporary art exhibition, Wolfgang Tillmans, Wolfgang Tillmans at David Zwirner, Hong Kong
Closed
26 March–12 May 2018 Wolfgang Tillmans Wolfgang Tillmans David Zwirner, Hong Kong

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

New York Autumn Exhibitions: The Lowdown Ocula Report New York Autumn Exhibitions: The Lowdown 14 Sep 2018 : Jareh Das for Ocula

The autumn exhibition season has officially kicked off in New York, with countless solo and group exhibitions featuring emerging, mid-career, and established artists, with some exhibiting works in the US for the first time. With a host of exhibitions to choose from, including a series of stellar museum exhibitions whose runs are nearing completion,...

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Eight art spaces to visit in Basel Ocula Report Eight art spaces to visit in Basel 13 Jun 2017 : Tessa Moldan for Ocula

Kunsthalle Basel Steinenberg 7, 4051, BaselSpread across the five ground floor galleries of Kunsthalle Basel is Ungestalt (19 May–13 August 2017), a form-defying exhibition as the title, the opposite of 'gestalt' or 'wholeness', can most accurately be interpreted. A playful exhibition, works by artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Caroline Achaintre,...

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Ocula Report: SP-Arte 2016 Ocula Report Ocula Report: SP-Arte 2016 26 Apr 2016 : Camila Belchior for Ocula

In amidst so much scandalous news coming out of Brazil about its deep rooted corruption, plummeting GDP, rocketing inflation and the recent Congressional vote for president Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment, there is good news from SP-Arte, the country’s international modern and contemporary art fair.Oscar Niemeyer’s Bienal...

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In Related Press

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Art Basel Week 2017: What to See Related Press Art Basel Week 2017: What to See Whitewall : 16 June 2017

Outside of the fairs this week, don't miss the exhibitions on view at Basel's tops museums and institutions, including Wolfgang Tillmans, Wim Delvoye, Jérôme Zonder, Yan Xing and Richard Serra, amongst others.

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Wolfgang Tillmans: ‘It’s the great album tracks that didn’t become singles’ Related Press Wolfgang Tillmans: ‘It’s the great album tracks that didn’t become singles’ The Art Newspaper : 16 June 2017

The Fondation Beyeler picked a versatile artist for its first major photography exhibition. German-born Wolfgang Tillmans has tested the medium over his career since the 1990s, applying photography to art-historical genres such as still-lifes, landscapes and abstraction. He has experimented with techniques, from using photocopiers to forgoing the...

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Basel’s Fondation Beyeler Mounts a Superb, Moving Wolfgang Tillmans Survey Related Press Basel’s Fondation Beyeler Mounts a Superb, Moving Wolfgang Tillmans Survey ARTnews : 15 June 2017

I feel lucky to be alive during the time that Wolfgang Tillmans is making art.That was my immediate reaction leaving the 48-year-old photographer's stunning survey at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel. Over the course of the past three decades, Tillmans has been such a consistently inventive and influential artist that it has become dangerously easy...

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At Zabludowicz Collection, artists test the parameters between authenticity and artifice Related Press At Zabludowicz Collection, artists test the parameters between authenticity and artifice Wallpaper* : 28 April 2017

Fact or fiction? That's the main question posed by a curious new exhibition of contemporary photography at the Zabludowicz Collection in London. On view until 9 July, You Are Looking At Something That Never Occurred draws from the gallery's archive to present seminal works by 14 artists who use the camera to test the parameters between past and...

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