Wolfgang Tillmans

2015 Hasselblad Award Winner


The German artist Wolfgang Tillmans is the recipient of the 2015 Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography for the sum of SEK 1,000,000 (approx. EUR 110,000).
HRH Prince Carl Philip presented this year’s Award at a ceremony at the Gothenburg Museum of Art on November 30. The award ceremony was hosted by Ebba Kleberg von Sydow. New this year was also that the award ceremony once again took place in Gothenburg. On December 1, 2015 an exhibition of Tillmans’ work opened at the Hasselblad Center, Sweden. On the same day, the Hasselblad Foundation hosted a symposium with the award winner, and a new book by Tillmans was released.

The Foundation’s citation regarding the 2015 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.”




Wolfgang Tillmans Hasselblad Award Winner 2015 Artist Talk 1 December, Gothenburg
Film 1 h 14 min


Wolfgang Tilmans was born in Remscheid, Germany in 1968, and is a worldrenowned artist who has redefined the popular understanding of photography as a gallery-based medium. He studied at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design in Bournemouth, Great Britain from 1990 to 1992 and mostly lived and worked in London for much of the 1990s until the mid 2000s. He was officially recognized in the year 2000, when he won the prestigious Turner Prize in London, and it is a testament to the groundbreaking nature of his work that to this date he remains the only artist working primarily with photography to have been awarded this accolade. His work is in the collections of museums all over the world, including key institutions in The United States, The United Kingdom, France and Germany. He has exhibited widely and constantly since the late 1990s and has recently had large-scale exhibitions at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Kunsthalle Zurich, K21, Dusseldorf, Museo de Arte de Lima, Peru, and Museo de Artes Visuales, Santiago, Chile. In 2014 installations by Wolfgang Tillmans were shown as part of the 8th Berlin Biennale, Manifesta 10 and in collection displays at the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen and the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. Recently Wolfgang Tillmans was also acclaimed for his highly original contribution to the Venice Architectural Biennale; a stunning two-channel video installation of his own photographic investigation of urban landscape in the age of globalization, which is presently displayed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Tillmans currently lives and works in Berlin and London.


Tillmans’ work is characterized by an extremely diverse and restless attitude to his subjects. His work ranges in focus and approach from street photography and urban portraiture (including important considerations of subcultures, queer politics and the AIDS crisis) to travel, landscape, still life, pictures of the sky and pure abstraction. Moreover, as well as producing iconic images, Tillmans is doubly significant in the breadth of his interests and approaches for the way in which he successfully demolishes the borders between apparently contradictory practices. In recent years, he has produced substantial and significant bodies of purely abstract photographic work, experimenting both with chemical and technical means, while maintaining a curiosity for the continued potential of more documentary images. For his most recent body of work Neue Welt (New World) Tillmans traveled throughout the world exploring it in a deviation from his beaten path.


His work over the past almost thirty years has been an exemplary investigation into what constitutes an image, how it functions and proliferates technologically and socially, in and between different spaces of representation. What is perhaps most significant about Tillmans’ practice, is his innovative attitude to the physical nature of the photographic print. He prints on different papers, at different scales, mounts and frames works in different ways to emphasize the very nature of photographs as spatial objects. By this means Tillmans is masterfully using the gallery space. He designs and curates his own site specific installations for each exhibition.


Tillmans’ hugely impressive floor to ceiling installations comprise framed and unframed works of various formats and scales. By doing so he transformed the status of the photographic image to equal and rival the most immersive and impressive contemporary installations. Besides the exhibition space Tillmans considers the printed page to be an important venue for his work. Since the 1990s he has been deeply involved in designing and editing artist’s books and monographs and regularly contributes to magazines and other publications.


Through a consistently challenging and engaging approach to the photographic image in all its forms, its presentation for exhibition and for publications, Tillmans has transformed the relationship between photography and the spaces and languages of contemporary art. He is among the most influential artists for recent and current generations of students, defining the potential and power of the photographic image in the twenty-first century.


Wolfgang Tillmans is mainly represented by the following galleries: Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Köln, Maureen Paley, London, David Zwirner, New York.



This year´s award committee,

which submitted its proposal to the Foundation´s board of directors, consisted of:

Simon Baker
chair of the jury, Curator of Photography, Tate Modern, London

Irina Chmyreva
Senior Curator, Project in Support for Photography in Russia, IRIS Foundation, Moscow

Katarina Gregos
independent Curator and Artistic Director, Art Brussels, Brussels

Roberto Koch
publisher, Contrasto Books, Rome and Milan

Roxana Marcoci
Senior Curator of Photography, the Museum of Modern Art, New York