Wolfgang Tillmans - Photographs London Tuesday, November 22, 2022 | Phillips

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  • “Making a portrait is a fundamental artistic act and the process of it is a very direct human exchange. The dynamics of vulnerability, exposure, embarrassment and honesty do not change, ever.”
    —Wolfgang Tillmans

    In his 2008-13 series Central Nervous System, Wolfgang Tillmans explores the extreme vulnerability and beauty of the human body, focusing with endless fascination on the most fragile and intimate parts of his one subject, Karl. In the present work, we see the taut nape of Karl’s exposed neck as he turns away from the camera. Captured in sublime detail, this monumental portrait exemplifies Tillmans’s uncanny ability to instil a sense of wonder in the everyday. In 2017, Collum was exhibited as part of a major show dedicated to the artist at London’s Tate Modern. Between September 2022 and January 2023, New York’s MoMA presents Tillmans’s first museum retrospective in the United States.



    Wolfgang Tillmans discussing Collum with Kate Hutchinson for The Guardian, 2017.

    • Provenance

      Maureen Paley, London, 2014

    • Exhibited

      central nervous system, Maureen Paley, London, 14 Oct - 24 Nov 2013, another
      Wolfgang Tillmans 2017, Tate Modern, London, 15 February - 11 June 2017, another
      Wolfgang Tillmans: Fragile, The GoDown Arts Centre and Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya, 12 April – 11 May 2018, another

    • Literature

      W. Tillmans, Utoquai, Oakland: TBW, 2013, n.p.
      W. Tillmans, Your body is yours, Osaka: National Museum of Art, 2015, p. 126
      Wolfgang Tillmans, Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2017, p. 191
      Wolfgang Tillmans, London: Tate, 2017, p. 231
      Wolfgang Tillmans: Today is the first day, London: Koenig, 2020, p. 38

    • 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.

      View More Works



Inkjet print, mounted to Dibond in artist’s frame.
Image: 201 x 134 cm (79 1/8 x 52 3/4 in.)
Frame: 212 x 145 cm (83 1/2 x 57 1/8 in.)

Signed and numbered 'Wolfgang Tillmans 1/1 + 1' in pencil on an artist label affixed to the reverse of the mount.

Full Cataloguing

£50,000 - 70,000 ‡♠

Sold for £76,860

Contact Specialist

Rachel Peart
Head of Department, London


Yuka Yamaji
Head of Photographs, Europe


General Enquiries
+44 20 7318 4092


London Auction 22 November 2022