Review: Wolfgang Tillmans, a Photographer Showing His Life as an Open Book
Wolfgang Tillmans may be moving toward total transparency in his life and his photography. He is at least trying to get the most out of both.
These are two of the big ideas to be extracted from Mr. Tillmans's enveloping debut exhibition at David Zwirner's gallery in Chelsea through Oct. 24. It is hardly his first gallery solo show in New York. That occurred in 1994 at the Andrea Rosen Gallery, where he had subsequent exhibitions.
But this show is Mr. Tillmans's first with Mr. Zwirner's high-octane multinational gallery, and it brims with ambition. It takes advantage of the gallery's big side-by-side spaces, without being overbearing, or making us wonder how much it cost. (Unlike, say, the Mike Kelley extravaganza one block away at Hauser & Wirth.) It is unusually personal, even for an autobiographical artist, and details what Mr. Tillmans's work has always implied: Photography has no limits.
The show is titled "PCR," an abbreviation for "polymerase chain reaction," in molecular biology the technique that finds and multiplies tiny fragments of DNA and is used by crime labs everywhere. This multitudinous metaphor reaffirms that today every photographic image can not only be dispersed everywhere, and be seen by anyone. It can also spur people to take more photographs, creating networks of experiences, feelings and ideas that connect people. This show is one such network.