Wolfgang Tillmans

886 Words4 Pages
`To see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wildflower to hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour' - William Blake. The Spanish art curator Rafael Doctor once wrote that London-based German-born photographer Wolfgang Tillmans had an amazing ability to see the whole in something small and mundane. Last year the judges of Britain's Turner Prize acknowledged this gift, making hTillmans the first photographer ever to win the Prize. As an openly gay artist Tillmans's images have inspired fear and loathing among certain sections of the British press for some time, but subsequent to his Turner Prize victory the condemnations became more frequent and febrile. A photograph of a naked man urinating on a chair prompted such headlines as, `Turner Prize Winner is a Photographer Who Specialises in Shaved Private Parts.' He was labelled an amateur pornographer - `amateur' because Tillmans takes great care to make his work appear spontaneous and unplanned. The Mirror Newspaper even sponsored a contest, `Have you Taken a Better Picture?' in which readers were encouraged to submit their favourite snapshots. Admittedly, this is all good for business. Controversy is de rigeur for contemporary artists. While some, like Tracy Emin, court controversy with disingenuous contrivances (getting drunk and swearing on national television), Tillmans's transgressive aesthetics are the genuine article. His notions of beauty and his sense of playfulness naturally espouse an alternative agenda. A man sitting on an aeroplane with his exposed penis seemingly eating from a lunch tray is, for Tillmans, both beautiful and funny. People might denounce such images as offensive to public morality, but what they are really react... ... middle of paper ... ...nce Klein's death Tillmans has experimented more and more with abstraction in his work, perhaps in a subconscious effort to distance himself from the corporeal. His photographs for the Royal Academy's `Apocalypse' exhibition last year were predominantly flaming sunsets abstracted into colour schemes of bruised claret and clear vermilion. It was a far cry from the searing realism of his early images. The man who had been called `the chronicler of his times' seemed to be turning his back on his times. It was only a natural progression insofar as Tillmans is an artist who refuses to remain static. Rest assured that his future work will be as qualified by stylistic tangents as his past work admits to them. Works Cited: Adrian Searle Wednesday November 29, 2000 The Guardian Maev Kennedy Arts and heritage correspondent Wednesday November 29, 2000 The Guardian

    More about Wolfgang Tillmans

      Open Document