It’s a big year for Wolfgang Tillmans. Before his major show at Tate Modern closed a few days ago, another one opened at the renowned Fondation Beyeler–just in time for the annual congregation of the art world for Art Basel.
While Wolfgang Tillmans may now be a household name the breadth and variety of his work will call to mind radically different images. One might think of his one-of-a-kind portrait of Kate Moss holding a head of Broccoli, the poster campaigning against Brexit stating ‘No man is an island. No country for itself’, his EPs 2016/1986 and Device Control, the minimalistic “paper drop” series of folded photographic paper, or his explicit pictures at Berghain’s Panorama Bar. The multi-faceted connotations to the artist’s name make it obvious that Tillmans outgrew the category of photography a long time ago. He pushes the boundaries of what in means to be an artist today. In doing so, Tillmans works through the complex social, economic, sexual and political present day realities, all the while trying to make a positive impact on the world around him.
While his photographs are formally perfect and technically outstanding, his ever-evolving methods of display add another layer of meaning to his exhibitions. Tillmans takes a great effort in making every room of an exhibition feel different. Neither of the two recent shows follow a chronological order. The sequence of works is much more dependent on the individual mood of the works themselves and their relationship to each other than defined by year dates. In a Tillmans exhibition you will find inkjet prints attached directly to the wall with bulldog clips, boxy plexiglas frames, magazine pages, and pictures lying flat in glass vitrines. While the white cube atmosphere at Tate Modern provided the perfect backdrop for Tillmans subtle interventions into the gallery space, the sheer beauty of the Fondation Beyeler, with its multiple views into nature, tends to overpower the artist’s presentation techniques.
While ‘2017’ at Tate Modern focused on the years 2003 to 2017, Fondation Beyeler, after adding adding a considerable group of the artist’s works to its collection, choose a rather retrospective approach to Tillmans’ practice. Around 200 works dating from 1986 to 2017 will be on show through 1 October together with a new audiovisual installation. If you manage to find a blank spot in this year’s demanding art calendar, make sure to pencil this one in.
On show at Fondation Beyeler through 1 October 2017.
This article was published on hey-woman.com.