Exhibitions

There were 30 years between 1943 and 1973. 30 years from 1973 was the year 2003.

Wolfgang Tillmans

September 23 - November 12, 2017

Wolfgang Tillmans, There were 30 years between 1943 and 1973. 30 years from 1973 was the year 2003, 2004
Wolfgang Tillmans, There were 30 years between 1943 and 1973. 30 years from 1973 was the year 2003, Exhibithionview, Photo: Kunstverein in HamburgWolfgang Tillmans, There were 30 years between 1943 and 1973. 30 years from 1973 was the year 2003, Exhibithionview, Photo: Kunstverein in HamburgWolfgang Tillmans, There were 30 years between 1943 and 1973. 30 years from 1973 was the year 2003, Exhibithionview, Photo: Kunstverein in HamburgWolfgang Tillmans, There were 30 years between 1943 and 1973. 30 years from 1973 was the year 2003, Exhibithionview, Photo: Kunstverein in HamburgWolfgang Tillmans, There were 30 years between 1943 and 1973. 30 years from 1973 was the year 2003, Exhibithionview, Photo: Kunstverein in HamburgWolfgang Tillmans, There were 30 years between 1943 and 1973. 30 years from 1973 was the year 2003, Exhibithionview, Photo: Kunstverein in HamburgWolfgang Tillmans, There were 30 years between 1943 and 1973. 30 years from 1973 was the year 2003, Exhibithionview, Photo: Kunstverein in HamburgWolfgang Tillmans, There were 30 years between 1943 and 1973. 30 years from 1973 was the year 2003, Exhibithionview, Photo: Kunstverein in HamburgWolfgang Tillmans, There were 30 years between 1943 and 1973. 30 years from 1973 was the year 2003, Exhibithionview, Photo: Kunstverein in HamburgWolfgang Tillmans, There were 30 years between 1943 and 1973. 30 years from 1973 was the year 2003, Exhibithionview, Photo: Kunstverein in Hamburg

On the occasion of its 200th anniversary, the Kunstverein in Hamburg presents a solo show by Wolfgang Tillmans (*1968, Remscheid, lives and works in Berlin) featuring a new work consistently developed from his art of the past 30 years. Tillmans’ installation There were 30 years between 1943 and 1973. 30 years from 1973 was the year 2003 is not a typical exhibition for the artist, although thoughts about space and sculpture have always been a crucial element of his work. The show takes the exhibition space and its inner-city context itself as a starting point and transforms it into a cineastic whole. The switched-off ceiling light, with over half of the space being dipped into semi-darkness, and the tilting axis of images of the Atlantic suggest disorientation. The parts of the space that are normally not noticed or in use are highlighted. The staging of the space draws from Tillmans’ observation that, “Whenever I stand in the exhibition hall I have a strong acoustic perception of the outside, the streets and the train tracks, especially because I cannot see through the high walls beneath the windows.“


The limits of the visible are manifested in the photographs from different work phases, as is especially evident in the self-portrait in infrared light. Chronologically, the exhibition begins with black-and-white images from the late 1980s done with the first laser photocopier, based on the artist’s travels and his years in Hamburg, i.e. showing the Hafenstraße or a blind married couple he met during his civil service. The sound installation evokes Hamburg as an abstract entity – changing between melodic and atonal phases just like Tillmans’ subjects shift between figuration, formal aesthetics and abstraction.Ranging from analogue via digital to projected imagery, sound and video, the thematically diverse installation focuses on the specific content of the images, such as the relentless return of food, which, in addition to the scientific content, the sea, the time, and a reminiscence of Mannerism in art history, can be seen in the various media. The latest medium is the 4K projector, which puts pin-sharp food still lifes at the architectural end of the exhibition. The sound of Hamburg Süd / Nee IYaow eow eow is based on explorations and collages of the artist's own voice, mixed with recordings by the internationally acclaimed, Hamburg-born singer Billie Ray Martin, as well as external recordings from the direct environment of the Kunstverein.

The tangibility of time and the representation of reality are the concern of the installation’s aluminum tables. A further development of the Truth Study Centre, the tables continue the idea of the exhibition title, the reflection of historical periods, with singular sentences printed on paper. Together with mussels, stones, stamps and their photographic equivalences, as well as pictures from the banknote printing shop, they form a broad associative field. The exhibition makes it clear why Wolfgang Tillmans names Kurt Schwitters as one of his inspirations.


Wolfgang Tillmans studied at the Bournemouth & Poole College of Art and Design from 1990 to 1992. The artist then lived in Hamburg, London, New York, and Berlin, and became well-known in the early 1990s for his style-forming photo portraits of friends and other young people in his immediate surroundings. These photographs established his reputation as a witness of current social movements. In the following years until today, he has expanded the medium of photography by large installations as well as by numerous innovations regarding images types and, above all, non-figurative photographs created entirely without optical lenses. Exhibitions at, among others: Serpentine Gallery/London, Kunsthalle Zürich, Moderna Museet/Stockholm, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen/Düsseldorf, National Museum of Art/Osaka, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art/New York. Wolfgang Tillmans was the first photographer to win the Turner Prize (2000) and he was also awarded the Hasselblad Prize (2015).  He has held a professorship at the Städelschule in Frankfurt/Main between 2003 and 2008.


Our thanks go to:

Department of Culture and Media of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg

Winter Stiftung

Studio Wolfgang Tillmans Berlin/London

Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/London

Maureen Paley, London

David Zwirner, New York