Magazine article Out

Taming of the Light

Magazine article Out

Taming of the Light

Article excerpt

VISUAL ART

CELEBRATED QUEER LENSMAN WOLFGANG TILLMANS' WORK STILL PROMPTS SOME TO ASK, "IS THIS ART?"

It may be a heavy mantle to be considered the chronicler of a generation, but few wear it as well as German-born photographer Wolfgang Tillmans. Beginning his career documenting the European club scene for spreads in fashion magazines such as i-D, Vogue, and Interview, he simultaneously challenged the gloss of the fashion industry while subtly referencing racism, homelessness, and gay rights. He also trained his eye on household utensils, food, and other subjects generally not considered worthy of serious depiction. With care and precision, each of his images-in still lifes, portraits, documentary, and landscapes-is given equal consideration and weight. They're democratized. Individually, the seemingly disparate, fleeting photographs capture transitory moments, but in his distinctive installations they constitute stunning montages. Random yet deliberate juxtapositions form a world, a habitat-Tillmans sets domestic minutiae against images of potentially shocking intimacy: laundry on a banister might be near a vibrant fruit still life next to a man masturbating in the woods. His signature images, and his recent abstract work (made by manipulating light and paper without the use of the camera), now come to the United States in his first retrospective here. …

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