Wolfgang Tillmans – The exploration of the unexpected

There are artists who are more familiar with art history than with their own work. They are able to interpret facts and put their own work into intellectual contexts that can only be astonished. (Especially when you look at the works they do.) Wolfgang Tillmans is different.

This photographer is certainly not easy to grasp. Of course he knows his way around art history, knows about parallels between his work and painting. Knows the common constructs in which art historians explain worlds of thought of artists. He remains pleasantly down-to-earth with his explanations. He is a seeker in his photography, an explorer. Places man in an overall context with nature, even the universe. Wants to get to the bottom of things in their objective self-evidence. And yet he has to admit that many of his works – e.g. from the nineties – were only fictional and were perceived as reality.

Until a few years ago, Tillmans photographed exclusively analog. This way of working also stands for genuineness.

Despite all modesty and the emphasis on the role of the observer – he appears again and again, the Tillmans: for example in his homoerotic motifs.

Ultimately, however, for me it is also precisely the moment in his work when he differentiates himself from a pure documenter.

For as self-evident and meaningless as man is on this planet, he is still a human being with all his vanities and needs.

Great photography, then, intimate moments and sensitive confessions.

Tobias Vetter