May 28 - October 1
Wolfgang Tillmans's work is the subject of a major retrospective at Fondation Beyeler. The exhibition is the museum's first comprehensive presentation of photography, and includes more than 180 works by Tillmans spanning 1989 to 2017. The artist was closely involved with the exhibition design, which also features a new audiovisual installation.
The Daily Telegraph's review of Tillmans's critically acclaimed solo exhibition currently at Tate Modern in London described how the work "broadcasts his questing, restless desire to innovate and do things differently."
Praised in the press as "fresh and invigorating," "unquestionably relevant," and "thrillingly visual," this exhibition presents work Tillmans has made since 2003, a year that marks a turning point in his practice from the intimate perspective of his early photographs to an increasingly outward-looking and politically orientated one. Incorporating not only photographs but also video, digital slide projections, publications, multipart sculptural installations, and music, the show demonstrates Tillmans's deepening engagement with current affairs, from gay rights to the refugee crisis and climate change. Accompanying the exhibition is a program designed specifically for the South Tank—one of Tate Modern's circular subterranean spaces dedicated to exhibiting live art, performance, installation, and film—which transformed it into a unique, immersive installation. From March 3 - 12, this part of the show brought together music, lights, field recordings, and video and features a series of free live music events. Tillmans's musical collaborators for this project include the Los Angeles-based rock group Wreck & Reference, Cologne's Thomas Brinkmann, and his ongoing musical partners Tim Knapp, Jay Pluck, and Juan Pablo Echeverri.
When it appeared publicly in the late 1980s, Tillmans's work signaled a new kind of subjectivity in photography. The photographs he took in ordinary settings such as clubs, friends' kitchens, and parks compose an unembellished document of Tillmans's life amid youth subcultures of the 1980s and 1990s. First published in magazines like i-D and Spex, his work was soon being shown in exhibitions.
At the heart of Tillmans's influential approach is a questioning of existing values and hierarchies. This applies not only to the subject matter and display of his work, with which he is famously innovative, but also to different areas of contemporary culture. He explained his position in conversation with Jefferson Hack in Dazed and Confused following the Brexit announcement: "I never thought that it was a contradiction to be interested in music and clubbing and clothes and at the same time see how all of that is connected to society and politics."
Tillmans was the first photographer to win the Turner Prize in 2000.
The National Museum of Art in Osaka presented Wolfgang Tillmans: Your Body is Yours, the photograher's first show at a Japanese museum in 11 years. Tillmans himself designed the exhibition space, which featured two large video installations: Book for Architects, a two-channel video work presenting 450 photographs of buildings on five continents; and Instrument, a video in which a figure's rhythmic steps produce a self-generated soundtrack to the work.
Tillmans also designed the accompanying exhibition catalogue, which included a text by Yuka Uematsu.
In 2015 Wolfgang Tillmans received The Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography. In conjunction with the honor, he presented an exhibition at the Hasselblad Foundation, Gothenburg, Sweden and published What’s Wrong With Redistribution (pictured below).
Watch Wolfgang Tillmans speak about his work on the occasion of his receiving the award.
Wolfgang Tillmans: Book for Architects is an installation which made its debut in the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale in the exhibition Elements of Architecture organized by Rem Koolhaas. The work was presented at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2015 following its acquisition by the museum.
Book for Architects was created over a period of ten years during which the artist visited 37 countries on five continents, amassing over 450 photographs. The images appear as a site-specific, two-channel video installation projected onto perpendicular walls in a sequence lasting around 40 minutes. "As such," Tillmans states, "the installation represents, and emulates, the randomness, beauty and imperfection that characterizes built reality, both past and present."
The exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art received wide critical acclaim. "Through the cycling shots of exteriors, interiors, skylines, and street views," says Architectual Digest, "Tillmans paints a portrait of modern-day architecture, showing the stylistic synchronicity in our globalized world." Artforum described the exhibition as "an ambitious recalibration of the relationship between architecture and image" and The New Yorker concluded "The range is encyclopedic, the experience exhilarating."
A Book for Architects was also featured in a solo exhibition of the artist's work at the Dům Umění – Galerie Současného Umění České Budějovice in the Czech Republic.
Read more: an interview with Tillmans in i-D magazine about the project