Wolfgang Tillmans

Date/place of birth

August 16, 1968, Remscheid

Wolfgang Tillmans - Window/Caravaggio
Wolfgang Tillmans - Window/Caravaggio

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Wolfgang Tillmans biography

For the German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans, photography is part of his search for a deeper understanding of the world. The artist is convinced of the existence of a photographic truth which he wishes to root out, illuminate and convey to his audience through his work. 

Wolfgang Tillmans’ early enthusiasm for photography

Wolfgang Tillmans was born in Remscheid on 16 August 1968.  He developed a lively interest in photography at an early age and started collecting selected photographs; he was particularly fascinated by the different forms of layout. As a teenager, this passion led him to museums in his vicinity and he became acquainted with the work of Sigmar Polke, Robert Rauschenberg, Gerhard Richter and of course Andy Warhol in Düsseldorf and Cologne. Having moved to Hamburg in 1987, the ambitious photographer celebrated his first solo exhibitions, and during this time, immersed himself in the equally young rave scene, becoming a sharp-eyed portraitist of youth culture and was, for a time, involved in the publication of the magazine Spex. His fascination for the spirit of his generation would accompany him throughout his artistic life, and time and again, iconic works emerged out of this interest, such as the famous pictures of his friends Lutz and Alex which were first published in the magazine i-D in 1992.

Studies in England; teaching in Hamburg, Bournemouth and Frankfurt

In 1990, Wolfgang Tillmans moved to England to study at the Bournemouth & Poole College of Art and Design. On graduation, he moved to London and finally to New York where he met the German-born painter Jochen Klein. Together they returned to London where they staged several exhibitions, before Klein’s premature death drove Tillmans back to Germany in 1997. In Hamburg, he took a position as guest professor at the University of Fine Arts from 1998 to 1999, and from 2001 taught temporarily in Bournemouth before working as professor of interdisciplinary art at the State University of Fine Arts in Frankfurt from 2003 to 2006. Tillmans is often politically active, protesting against Brexit with large-scale campaigns and advocating for a higher voter turnout in the 2017 parliamentary elections. 

Art beyond the camera; the turn to digital photography

Wolfgang Tillmans has continued to develop artistically throughout his whole career; his beginnings in portrait photography of young people were followed by numerous experiments with the most diverse motifs and techniques. Particularly striking are the photographs taken without a camera in which the unexposed photographic paper was passed through a developing machine and given its own form with the scratches, streaks and other irregularities acquired through the traces of previous developing processes. Wolfgang Tillmans has taken the portraits of stars such as the singer Lady Gag and the Pop Art artist Richard Hamilton, but more often than the world of glamour, he was to be found with his work in the niches that are not always exposed to the last detail. Describing his art, he once said he sees himself as a translator of the three-dimensional world into the two-dimensional image with his camera. Wolfgang Tillmans has received prizes and honours for his pioneering work, and was the first photographer and non-English artist to be awarded to the prestigious Turner Prize in 2000.

© Kunsthaus Lempertz

Wolfgang Tillmans Prices

Wolfgang TillmansWindow/Caravaggio€22.320
Wolfgang TillmansPumpkin, Tomato & Pomme Granate€13.640
Wolfgang TillmansLutz & Alex, Schwanzgriff€13.640
Wolfgang TillmansConquistador II€11.160
Wolfgang TillmansMICHAEL & OTTO€10.800
Wolfgang TillmansFaltenwurf (blue shorts) I€10.080

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