Wolfgang Tillmans


December 1, 2015 – February 14, 2016


German artist Wolfgang Tillmans received the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography, presented to him by HRH Prince Carl Philip November 30.


On December 1, the Hasselblad Foundation organised a symposium in Wolfgang Tillmans’ honour, with lectures by Tom Holert, Art Historian and Critic; Melanie Vandenbrouck, Curator of Art, and Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer, both from the Royal Observatory, Royal Museums Greenwich; as well as an artist talk with Wolfgang Tillmans. The same day, an exhibition with the Award Winner’s works opened at the Hasselblad Center.


Wolfgang Tillmans’ exhibition installations are groundbreaking in their non-hierarchical and experimental approach, and the Hasselblad Award show manifests his consistent and eloquent use of photography in investigations of what it means to observe.


Tillmans’ engagement in the politics of non-normative cultures and sexualities has been evident since his earliest photographic work from around 1990. Since then he has also consistently explored portraiture, of musicians, artists, activists and friends alike, documented the nightlife of Western metropoles, details of bodies and still lifes from everyday surroundings – thus repeatedly seeing the world anew through a reworking of classical genres. Another important strand throughout the exhibition is the conceptual study of materiality, as in the the Silver, Lighter and Paper Drop works, which all explore photography itself and the dynamics between chance and control. The exhibition also includes a selection of tables from the series truth study center, where the surface allows montages of research into truths, science and dogma. Finally, the circulation of images is also visualised in the new video Printing Press Heidelberg Speedmaster XL – Real Time Total Eclipse Nightfall and Exit, where the mechanical rhythm of the printing press is juxtaposed with the pace and duration of nature’s macrocosm.


The book Wolfgang Tillmans: What’s wrong with redistribution? can be regarded as an extension of the exhibition. It is edited and designed by Wolfgang Tillmans, published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König and includes a new commissioned essay by Tom McDonough.


The Foundation’s citation regarding the 2015 Hasselblad Award Winner Wolfgang Tillmans:


Wolfgang Tillmans has established himself among the most original and innovative artists of his generation, constantly pushing the photographic medium in new directions. His practice has covered subjects of pressing political and social importance since the 1990s, reflecting both directly and indirectly on the power of the photographic image to engage critically with the world around us. Furthermore, Tillmans has transformed the understanding of photographic exhibition making through his daring and original installations, playing with scale, formats, framing and presentation to produce immersive experiences that have inspired subsequent generations of artists.


Hasselblad Foundation curators Dragana Vujanovic and Louise Wolthers state: “Tillmans is both continuing and developing the tradition of socially engaged photography, which characterises many of the previous Hasselblad Award winners. What makes Tillmans’ work unique is his layering of realities and perspectives on the world, observed in everything from the most simple, everyday occurrences, to dramatic changes on a global scale.”


Read more about the Hasselblad Award 2015 to Wolfgang Tillmans.

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