Lutz & Alex. holding cock, 1992. Chromogenic print, edition 10/10, image: 13 3/4 × 10 inches (34.9 × 25.4 cm); sheet: 16 × 12 inches (40.6 × 30.5 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by the Photography Committee, 2001, 2001.33.7. © Wolfgang Tillmans
Wolfgang Tillmans's photographs of friends and night life have appeared regularly in London's i-D magazine and other publications since 1989. Though his work has had a tremendous impact on the studied casualness of much recent fashion photography, Tillmans is not a "fashion photographer." If anything he is a portraitist who often photographs his friends—who appear alternately tough, vulnerable, loving, ferocious, gay, and straight—in intimate situations. Though these probing images reflect his own subjective experiences, they also operate on a more general level, recording a specific dimension of our contemporary culture. Tillmans establishes a collaborative process with his models, whom he calls "accomplices." Thus the informal look of the works belies their choreographed construction. Landscape and still-life images also play a crucial role in his oeuvre, in which half-eaten fruit, sewer rats, crumpled clothing, or urban skylines are photographed with the same dignity and attention to beauty as his human subjects. Traditional subject genres are questioned; crumpled clothing might suggest a figure or landscape, while city scenes seen from the air resemble a still life of objects.