Wolfgang Tillmans’s work since 2003 is the subject of a new show opening today at Tate Modern in London. “Wolfgang Tillmans: 2017,” on view until June 11, focuses on Tillmans’s work across different media, including photos, videos, digital slide projections, publications and recorded music. The photos include portraits, landscapes and still lifes, all made with his straight-on approach to everyday life that some see as a precursor to the esthetics of Instagram. Also on view are his more politically engaged works, such as his “Truth Study Centre,” begun in 2005, which pairs clippings of text and photos from newspapers, magazines and other printed materials on tabletops.
Connecting these approaches is Tillmans’s interest in unvarnished experience and communication. “My technical approach has always been that I want to approximate my pictures to what it feels like to look through my eye,” he told a recent interviewer. “The biggest success I can have is when someone says she can ‘smell’ a couple of pictures, or that they know how a certain texture felt. That is success, because that is connection–not feeling alone.”