Critics’ Picks

Installation view, 2005.

Installation view, 2005.


Wolfgang Tillmans

Maureen Paley
21 Herald Street
September 7–October 9, 2005

Coinciding with the publication of his monograph truth study center, Wolfgang Tillmans’s most recent works continue to explore his usual themes: togetherness, views from above, still lifes, cameraless photography, and the phenomenology of the medium. In the downstairs gallery, excessively magnified and scaled-up images of his former series Freischwimmer present giant, red, opaque surfaces reminiscent of color field painting. The grandeur of their size is counterbalanced by the more casual approach of the pictures upstairs. There, new and older photographs (most of which can be found in the new book) are clustered in cabinets that vaguely recall museum displays. But here the staginess of the installation works against the spontaneity of the artist’s snapshot aesthetic. The promenade cuts through an artificially claustrophobic environment, although peering closely at the pictures restores their intimacy and the possibility of making connections between them. The subjects constantly change—portraits of friends whose poses recall art historical precedents are interspersed with images that evince Tillmans’s passion for astronomy, etc.—but, in the end, they all orbit around Tillmans’s life, like pages from a diary of pure surface.