The Wolfgang Tillmans picture gallery

In the new edition of our Wolfgang Tillmans book he explains how his first camera was actually a photocopier
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Freischwimmer 190 (2011) by Wolfgang Tillmans

1 / 10 Freischwimmer 190 (2011) by Wolfgang Tillmans

Lutz & Alex sitting in the trees (1992) by Wolfgang Tillmans

2 / 10 Lutz & Alex sitting in the trees (1992) by Wolfgang Tillmans

Corinne on Gloucester Place (1993) by Wolfgang Tillmans

3 / 10 Corinne on Gloucester Place (1993) by Wolfgang Tillmans

Paper Drop (Star) (2006) by Wolfgang Tillmans

4 / 10 Paper Drop (Star) (2006) by Wolfgang Tillmans

Astro Crusto, A (2012) by Wolfgang Tillmans

5 / 10 Astro Crusto, A (2012) by Wolfgang Tillmans

Young Man, Jeddah (B) (2012) by Wolfgang Tillmans

6 / 10 Young Man, Jeddah (B) (2012) by Wolfgang Tillmans

In Flight Astro (II) (2010) Wolfgang Tillmans

7 / 10 In Flight Astro (II) (2010) Wolfgang Tillmans

Love (Hands in Air) (1989) by Wolfgang Tillmans

8 / 10 Love (Hands in Air) (1989) by Wolfgang Tillmans

Podium (1999) by Wolfgang Tillmans

9 / 10 Podium (1999) by Wolfgang Tillmans

Freischwimmer 78 (2004) by Wolfgang Tillmans

10 / 10 Freischwimmer 78 (2004) by Wolfgang Tillmans


Can you remember your first camera? Wolfgang Tillmans says his was a black-and-white photocopier, which he first used back in 1986. As the 45-year-old German photographer writes in the new edition of his Phaidon monograph, "In my hometown of Remscheid, I found a photocopier in a copy shop that could reproduce photos in shades of grey and enlarge them in increments up to 400 percent. In a way, it served as my first 'camera' - I've always thought of the photocopier as a camera. And I used it to photocopy found pictures as well as my own and would continuously increase the enlargement."

It might sound contrary, but Tillmans photographs, from his early fashion and club shots for magazines such as i-D, through to his more recent abstract Freischwimmer series, seem to capture a level of sensuousness that goes beyond simple visual fidelity.

Getting back to that photocopier, Tillmans recalls: "I became completely fascinated with how this industrially fabricated paper, that has no particular value, could be transformed into a beautifully charged, special and precious object through the touch of a button. For me that was a moment of initiation, and the way that I actually came to photography: in the realisation that, apparently, through other means besides my own hands, meaning can be instilled through the mechanics and in the material itself."

Over the following 28 years, Tillmans has transformed an awful lot of paper into beautifully charged objects. You can take a look at some of this above, and if you would like to own a little yourself you can pre-order a copy of this fully revised and expanded monograph, here.


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