Since the early 90s, Wolfgang Tillmans’ work has been the subject of many solo exhibitions and this upcoming September, the Museum of Modern Art will present New York’s first comprehensive survey of his work, titled Wolfgang Tillmans: to look without fear.
The exhibition is expected to have approximately 350 of Tillmans’s photographs, videos, and multimedia installations on display in loose chronological order from the past 40 years.
The exhibition is expected to highlight how his inventive, philosophical, and creative approach is both informed by and designed to highlight the social and political causes for which he has been an advocate throughout his career. From the outset of his career, he has been making connections between his pictures in response to the context of the space they are exhibited in.
“Social themes form a rich vein throughout his practice,” Roxana Marcoci, the exhibition’s curator and MoMA’s David Dechman Senior Curator of Photography, said, “They motivate Tillmans’s exploration of the questions of how to see and how to communicate seeing.”
Tillmans is a pioneer in contemporary photography, having created a kind of intimate playfulness, while still reflecting a deep care for his subjects, that stylistically makes his images easily recognizable.
Tillmans, who has done work in regards to the survival and loss amid the AIDS crisis, the media’s aestheticization of military forces, giving voice to the LGBTQ+ communities globally, and tracking diffusion of globalism, considers the role of the artist to be, among other things, that of “an amplifier” for social awareness.
The expansive exhibition will present both Tillmans’ iconic photographs alongside his more rarely seen significant bodies of work including a range of ecstatic images of nightlife to cameraless abstractions, sensitive portraits to architectural studies, documents of social movements to windowsill still lifes, and astronomical phenomena to intimate nude.
“I see my installations as a reflection of the way I see, the way I perceive or want to perceive my environment,” the 53-year-old German artist has said, “They’re also always a world that I want to live in.”
To Look Without Fear sums up Tillmans’ exploration of seemingly every genre of photography imaginable.
The exhibition will be open for MoMA Member Previews from September 9 through 11. It will be open to the public September 12 through January 1.
If you won’t be able to make it to New York, don’t worry, as following its presentation at MoMA, Wolfgang Tillmans: To look without fear will travel to the Art Gallery of Ontario (spring–summer 2023) as well as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (autumn 2023–winter 2024).