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Born: 1968, Remscheid, Germany
Lives and Works: London and Berlin
In 1992 Wolfgang Tillmans made a self-conscious decision to "avoid the language of importance," as he put it—and a liminal, ephemeral, and transitory sensibility has characterized his use of photography ever since. Several overlapping bodies of works constitute a reservoir of judiciously considered and strikingly immediate pictures that the artist edits and orchestrates. From postcard-size to human proportions, his communities of images always populate an exhibition wall or tabletop in a way that suggests a set of relationships or a public conversation. Whether depicting a rat disappearing down a drain, a sock drying on a radiator, a lightning strike, an armpit, a bunch of keys, or a seated friend, Tillman's images seem to selectively expose irresistible photographic truths about their subjects with refinement and precision. His photographs are sometimes framed to take on a sculptural presence, but more often they are unprotected inkjet printouts that hang straightforwardly from pins, binder clips, or pieces of tape. This mode of presentation complements their subjects, who similarly often seem somewhat naked and vulnerable.