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Wolfgang Tillmans

Wolfgang Tillmans: “Mr Zeitgeist”

Photographing the ripple effect

Dubbed “Mr Zeitgeist”, German-born Wolfgang Tillmans has worked across photographic genres including documentary, portraiture, landscape and still-life. Since winning the Turner Prize in 2000 for his photographic portraiture, the London-based artist has turned to an increasingly abstract style of photography. Along with series like “Blushes” (2000-01), the “Freischwimmer” series – the title of which refers to a person who swims or lives freely – appears more painterly than photographic. With Freischwimmer 144, 2009, which was created in the darkroom by manipulating light on paper, fine, dark red lines swim across the sunset orange surface like optic fibres or the traces of light that you momentarily see swim across your eyes when you shut them. The large-scale unframed ink-jet print is pegged to the wall at Maureen Paley (C12) with small white bulldog clips. “This has been an essential part of the early origins of his work,” says Paley. “When I first started to show him, the ink-jets were the first thing that he showed to the world.” Freischwimmer 144, an edition of one priced at E65,000, has been reserved by a private collector.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Wolfgang Tillmans'

Appeared in Frieze London dailies , October 2009