Celebrated photographer and ‘artistic statesman’
The New Yorker called Tillmans an ‘artistic statesman’ in a September profile. Certainly the photographer, who made his name capturing queer youth culture during the 1990s, has become something of an icon. The expansion of his global fanbase is helped by a relentless exhibition schedule (ten solo shows this year, including an African tour that stopped at museums in Kinshasa, Nairobi and Johannesburg) and the fact that many of the places to which he travels are captured in the work. His creative spirit is just as restless: this year he designed sets for the English National Opera’s staging of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem (1962) and released Source, an experimental noise single that follows last year’s full-length album. Though less directly engaged in politics than in 2016–17 (when he campaigned furiously against Brexit and the far-right in Germany), Tillmans did release a book that questions why people remain committed to an opinion when all evidence points to the contrary.