Wolfgang Tillmans is a German photographer. He rose into fame due to a series of casual portraits of his friends and he was quickly described as an observer of contemporary society. The work of Wolfgang Tillmans is characterised by a shocking lack of self-discipline (at least according to some art critics). He is rebellious, refuses orthodoxy and dogmatism and his method is to reject all canons, aesthetic or other. His work thus seems disparate, heterogeneous and discontinuous. Tillmans’ methodology is characterised by a lack of effect, a good dose of provocation, a refusal to narrate and a positive form of polysemic dilettantism that comes in contrast with his somewhat easy intellectualism. His primary obsession appears to be to achieve a sophisticated form of immediacy with his audience.
Although it is difficult to ascribe Wolfgang Tillmans in a specific movement, in the 1980s he moved to London and became an important part of the local gay techno scene due to his desire to experience a marginal and unconventional way of life. Tillmans’ exhibitions are unique because his photographs are not framed or stuck to the walls regularly – they are rather placed irregularly everywhere on the walls, sometimes to heights that are difficult to observe. This arrangement breaks with traditional notions of scenography and leaves the impression of a ‘galaxy of documents’. To date, he is preoccupied with gender issues and homosexuality and in 2009 he abandoned conventional photography and entered into the digital era.