Wolfgang Tillmans - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, May 18, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Wolfgang Tillmans: Freedom from the Known, February 26 - May 29, 2006, pl. 24 (illustrated)
    Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Wolfgang Tillmans, May 20 - August 13, 2006 (another example exhibited)

  • Literature

    Wolfgang Tillmans: Lighter, exh. cat., Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, 2008, p. 229 (illustrated)
    Wolfgang Tillmans, ed., Abstract Pictures, Ostfildern, 2015, no. 1 (illustrated as the frontispiece)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Throughout the 1990s, Wolfgang Tillmans gained recognition for his approach to representational photography, including his seminal portraits, still lifes, and depictions of club culture all unified by a constant interrogation of established photographic hierarchies. Alongside his works made with the camera, Tillmans has spent the last two decades developing his unique approach to creating deeply compelling, non-representational works that continue to push the bounds of his chosen medium.

    The artist’s interest in abstraction began early on in his career. The first works he ever exhibited in the late 1980s were experimentations made with a Canon photocopier that highlighted issues of surface and scale. Despite these origins, the abstract works Tillmans began creating around the start of the new millennium came as a surprise to many who had come to associate him with his often politically-charged, representational works. A pivotal moment in both the artist’s career and the public’s understanding of the complexities of his practice came in 2006 with his first American institutional exhibition, Freedom From The Known, at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center. This presentation introduced a new, never-before-seen body of purely abstract, large-scale photographs including the present lot, quiet mind, 2005.

    The twenty-four abstract images Tillmans introduced in this exhibition all shared elusive, transitory qualities, and their presentation as large-scale, framed chromogenic prints emphasized their powerful presence as objects in space, simultaneously displaying both buoyancy and weight. Perhaps no work in this ground-breaking body better illustrates their gravitas than quiet mind. The sheer scale of the work engulfs the viewer and holds a visceral impact not dissimilar from Abstract Expressionist or Color Field painting. The title, quiet mind, further alludes to the idea of an image as the embodiment of a mental state, and when viewing the mysterious, green field of color that diagonally fades from light to dark, one also begins to contemplate what is not there, thinking beyond the visible and allowing themselves to succumb to the powerful experiential qualities of the composition.

    While Tillmans has always remained relatively secretive about the exact process behind the creation of his camera-less works, he does describe his abstract pictures as belonging to certain “families” grouped together based on the specific techniques used in their making. quiet mind, 2005 represents a unique melding of two of these groupings. The floating, sinuous forms that emerge in the light green passage of the work call to mind the artist’s Freischwimmer works (which translates as “swimming freely”) made entirely from his skillful direction of light, while the expansive, green field of color recalls his Impossible Colour series, moody, monochromatic works that are the result of chemical experimentations.

    Since his exhibition at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in 2006 where his large-scale, abstract works made their institutional debut, the artist has continued to highlight the integral nature of these works within his larger practice, including his solo exhibition now currently on view at Tate Modern. However, perhaps no presentation quite captures the significance of the abstract works quite like the artist’s self-designed publication from 2011 titled simply “Abstract Pictures.” The specific importance of quiet mind is emphasized in the book by the artist’s choice of featuring the work as the frontispiece. This haunting image, with its evocative title, serves as a powerful introduction to the pages that follow, revealing the artist’s exploration of the material limits of the photographic process and the visceral potential the medium can hold when freed from the burden of its representative function.

  • Artist Biography

    Wolfgang Tillmans

    German • 1968

    Since the early 1990s, Wolfgang Tillmans has pushed the boundaries of the photographic medium. Challenging the indexical nature traditionally associated with photography, his abstract and representational photographic bodies of work each in their own way put forward the notion of the photograph as object—rather than as a record of reality. While achieving his breakthrough with portraits and lifestyle photographs, documenting celebrity culture as well as LGBTQ communities and club culture, since the turn of the millennium the German photographer has notably created abstract work such as the Freischwimmer series, which is made in the darkroom without a camera.

    Seamlessly integrating genres, subject matters, techniques and exhibition strategies, Tillmans is known for photographs that pair playfulness and intimacy with a persistent questioning of dominant value and hierarchy structures of our image-saturated world. In 2000, Tillmans was the first photographer to receive the prestigious Turner Prize.

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quiet mind

signed, titled, numbered and dated "quiet mind 2005 1/1+1 Wolfgang Tillmans" on the reverse of the backing board
chromogenic print mounted on Forex, in artist's frame
print 89 1/2 x 67 1/2 in. (227.3 x 171.5 cm.)
frame 91 7/8 x 73 1/2 in. (233.4 x 186.7 cm.)

Executed in 2005, this work is number 1 from an edition of 1 plus 1 artist's proof.

$70,000 - 100,000 

Sold for $322,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 18 May 2017