Wolfgang Tillmans at Fondation Beyeler

By Siw Aldershvile Nielsen

This summer my boyfriend and I decided to travel through Germany, Switzerland, and Italy by train. As a fan of the German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans, the retrospective exhibition at Fondation Beyeler in Basel was on the top of my must-see list. Fondation Beyeler is a breathtaking exhibition space, where modern architecture is framing idyllic peaceful nature. 

Fondation Beyeler

The exhibition, which presents selected works from 1989 to 2017, is a comprehensive introduction to Wolfgang Tillmans, who has become an iconic photographer in many disciplines and techniques including still life, (self)portraits, landscapes, narratives, abstract, light studies, Xerox-manipulations, non-camera created photographs, and so on. It is possible to experience a wide range of photographs produced both with and without a camera, as well as a new audiovisual installation. The 200 photographs in small and large formats printed on different types of paper are presented both with and without frames and are hanging at different heights next to each other.


'Blautopf, Baum', 2001
'CONQUISTADOR II', 2000
'himmelblau', 2005

What might appear as an unstructured exhibition without a chronological order has the intention to remove the hierarchal order of the exhibition context and present his way of creating imagery, which differs from photography in the more conventional sense. Each room groups works by a specific technique and connects everyday themes such as beauty, nature, desire, social and political life. 


Installation view
'meeting lights', 2006
'Leaf for Architects', 2013

This exhibition marks the Fondation Beyeler’s first extensive engagement with photography and celebrating the iconic works of Wolfgang Tillmans, is in my mind, a perfect way to begin. I left the exhibition feeling inspired in terms of photographing both exotic locations and everyday objects, and that is for me definitely a sign that it was worth the visit.


'Concorde', 1997
Installation view

Wolfgang Tillmans, May 28 – October 1, 2017

The major summer exhibition at Fondation Beyeler is dedicated to Wolfgang Tillmans. Tillmans was born in 1968 in Remscheid, Germany. At 20 he lived in Hamburg, where he began his work as an artist. He studied at the College of Art and Design in Bournemouth in the early 90s. Between 1992 and 2007, he lived and worked predominantly in London before shifting his focus to Berlin.

Website: Fondation Beyeler

Installation view
Fondation Beyeler
'Gedser', 2004