Andrea Rosen Gallery has initiated a series of presentations in which they invite distinguished curators to select works out of the archival boxes of Wolfgang Tillmans’ small and medium c-prints kept in the gallery. This first presentation—curated by Beatrix Ruf, director of the Kunsthalle Zurich—is on view in their Gallery 3 through June 11, 2011. Spanning 1991 to 2010, these 60 small and medium c-prints have been carefully selected by Ruf.
Encompassing a wide array of genres, Tillmans’ photographic practice—portraits, still-life compositions, sky photographs, astrophotography, aerial shots, and landscapes—has been motivated by aesthetic and political interests, particularly in relation to homosexuality and gender identity. Tillmans’ comprehensive and diverse body of work is distinguished not only by an attentive and insightful observation of his surroundings but also by an on-going, systematic investigation of the photographic medium’s foundations. In his own view, Tillmans takes pictures, in order to see the world.
In the last decade, Wolfgang Tillmans has looked to the very chemical foundations of photographic material as well as its haptic and spatial possibilities. Created in the darkroom without the use of a camera and largely accidental such works present photography as a self-referential medium that could lead the way toward a new type of image structure. How different from the nearly documentary images created with a monochrome laser copier at his first exhibition in 1988! While both are compelling, Tillmans’ work shows ever more manipulation and play with materials and compositions—bringing his photos toward a sculptural sensibility.
Considered one of the most important of today’s contemporary artists, Tillmans was the first photographer and also the first non-English artist to be awarded the Turner Prize (2000). (His installation for the Turner prize show showed hundreds of photographs in a dizzying number of formats such as Polaroids, photocopies, inkjet prints, and cibachrome panoramas in saturated colors!) In 2001, he was awarded first prize in the competition for the design of the AIDS-Memorial for the City of Munich—eventually erected according to his “vision” at the Sendlinger Tor. Meanwhile, Tillmans was awarded the Kulturpreis der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Photographie (The Culture Prize of the German Society for Photography) in 2009. Viewing each exhibition as a site-specific installation, Tillmans often addresses the exhibition space as a larger composition. This year, he travelled to Haiti with the charity Christian Aid to document progress in reconstruction after that nation’s devastating earthquake.
Tillmans held his first exhibition at the Daniel Buchholz Gallery (Cologne). That was followed by large solo exhibitions at such institutions as Kunsthalle (Zürich), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid), Museum Ludwig in Cologne (2001), Castello di Rivoli (Italy), Palais de Tokyo (Paris), MoMA PS1 (New York), Armand Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, (Washington D.C.), and the Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin). Tate Britain’s 2003 retrospective of Tillmans’ work was the first time the museum had devoted an exhibition to the work of a single photographer. He was included in the 2005 and 2009 Venice Biennales.
Having organized exhibitions, written essays, and published catalogues on artists such as Jenny Holzer, Urs Fischer, Liam Gillick, Marina Abramovic, Peter Land, Emmanuelle Antille, Angela Bulloch, Ugo Rondinone, Richard Prince, Keith Tyson, Monica Bonvicini, Rodney Graham, Isa Genzken, Doug Aitken, Rebecca Warren, Carol Bove, Oliver Payne, Nick Relph, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, and Sean Landers, it is no wonder that this curator, Beatrix Ruf, is called “the anointer” and the curator commencing this series. Appointed director of the Kunsthalle (Zürich) in 2001, Ruf has served as judge for the Prix Lafayette, and the Enel Contemporanea and LUMA prizes.
To see Tillmans' work through the eyes of eminent curators is to understand his insight in terms of his journey through the photographic medium’s very foundations. Opening at the end of June, the next presentation will be curated by Stefan Kalmar, director of Artists Space.
Out of the Boxes: Photos of Wolfgang Tillmans, Part 1
(Curated by Beatrix Ruf)
Through June 11, 2011
525 West 24th Street NYC 10011