Tillmans' art in general
Tillmans photographs an abundance of subjects, still lifes with fruit, portraits, everyday objects, landscapes, interiors; some of them snapshots, others meticulously arranged in classical compositions. The pictures alternate between colourful photographs with glossy surfaces (cibachrome) and cheap prints (inkjet) which Tillmans exhibit together. Typically a work comprises several pictures, mixing genres and print types, thus creating unorthodox, aesthetic juxtapositions.
Tillman's work constitutes a form of visual poetry, confronting the everyday and the aesthetics of the real with conventional definitions of beauty. Its meaning emerges in the combination of the different subjects and genres, and it can be read as a modern vanitas picture. Common to the disparate pictures is Tillman’s focus on physical presence, be it the folds and texture of clothes, the texture of fruit or an ostensibly trivial humdrum existence.
To Tillmans lifestyle, art and fashion are inextricably linked, and he often photographs his friends from the gay subculture. From the very beginning his pictures were a blend of fashion, portrait and art photography, an attempt to break down the traditional barriers between the genres. Therefore his works often have an acutely personal expression, permitting a glimpse of his private life. This focus on the everyday, presented in an anti-aesthetic, snapshot-like form, was a general trend in the '90s: artists explored reality and banal, familiar idioms in a style resembling sociological and ethnographical inquiries.
REALITY AS IMAGE
In Tillmans' recent works his formal interest has become more pronounced. His photographs have become more abstract and, evident in Untitled (Las Vegas), a mixture of snapshot photography and darkroom experiments. Here Tillmans has exposed the negative to light and otherwise manipulated the original subject so that the photograph no longer simply depicts reality but is an image in its own rights.