Wolfgang Tillmans - Photographs London Friday, September 25, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘In my lens-based paper drop images I made the photographic paper itself my subject matter, creating images that are figurative and abstract at the same time. I liken them to mathematical functions. I can’t calculate them, but a mathematician could describe exactly how their shapes happened through the tension of the paper and gravity. They are almost like scientific illustrations.’

    Wolfgang Tillmans

    The photographic paper fills the frame of paper drop (studio) II, folded back in a teardrop shape to reveal its glossy surface of shimmering turquoise tones, manifesting themselves from the inside out. Removing extraneous detail, Tillmans showcases the photographic paper as it takes on a sculptural life of its own, focusing his investigation on its duality:

    What intrigues me is the tension of the two key qualities of a photograph: the promise of it being a perfect, controlled object, and the reality of a photographic image being mechanically quite unsophisticated. It creases or buckles when it’s too dry, curls in humidity, becomes rigid and vulnerable when it’s mounted, and for that reason, loses its flexibility. I choose to reconcile all this and don’t pretend that it isn’t happening. I’ve made that all part of the visual experience.

    This oversized example from Tillmans’s long-term paper drop series epitomises his preoccupation with the visual immediacy of the surface.

  • 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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paper drop (studio) II

Chromogenic print, mounted on Dibond, in artist’s frame.
Image: 135 x 202 cm (53 1/8 x 79 1/2 in.)
Frame: 145.5 x 212.8 cm (57 1/4 x 83 3/4 in.)

Signed in pencil, printed title, date and number 1/1 + 1 AP on a gallery label affixed to the reverse of the frame.

This work is number 1 from the sold-out edition of 1 + 1 AP.

£100,000 - 150,000 ‡♠

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Rachel Peart
Head of Sale, Specialist

Yuka Yamaji
Head of Photographs, Europe

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London Auction 25 September 2020