Press Release

Wolfgang Tillmans: if one thing matters, everything matters

Tate Britain  Linbury Galleries
6 June – 14 September 2003

if one thing matters, everything matters is a major solo exhibition at Tate Britain of the work of the Turner Prize winner Wolfgang Tillmans. Born in Germany, but based in London, Tillmans has built up a considerable reputation in the last ten years, working almost exclusively as a photographic artist. This is his first monographic museum exhibition in the UK and has been conceived especially for Tate Britain. Fittingly, it reflects the artist’s longstanding relationship with London and includes new work made specifically for the show, along with a range of images selected from throughout his career.

Tillmans’ photographs present us with a compelling alternative to conventional ideas about beauty – his landscapes, still-lifes and portraits have a distinctive energy, often appearing spontaneous and capturing the essence of the moment. Since 1998 he has also made vibrant and intense abstract compositions by manipulating the effects of light on photo-sensitive paper. Elements of important past installations of his work, such as that as Chisenhale Gallery, London, in 1997 and at Buchholz + Buchholz Gallery, Cologne 1993, are reconstructed as part of this exhibition alongside new photographs, not previously seen, which show the artist increasingly interested in classical subjects such as draped clothing.

While continuing to explore the potential of the still image Tillmans has begun to work with video, collaborating with the pop group, Pet Shop Boys, on a music video, and making a large-scale video installation, Lights (Body) 2000–2 which is shown in this exhibition.

Tillmans was born in 1968 in Remscheid, Germany and studied photography at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design (1990–1992). He has lived and worked in Hamburg, London and New York, but settled in London permanently in 1996. He has been awarded various prizes: the Böttcherstrasse Prize in Bremen (1995), the ars viva Prize, from the Kulturkreis der Deutschen Wirtschaft (1995) and the Turner Prize (2000). Several monographic books on his work have been published and he has exhibited extensively worldwide and in the UK and his highly acclaimed retrospective exhibition, View from Above, is currently touring major European museums.

The exhibition is curated by Mary Horlock, Curator, Tate Britain, in collaboration with the artist. A unique book from Tate Publishing, conceived and designed by Wolfgang Tillmans and featuring over 2,300 works, accompanies the exhibition.