Artwork Detail

Silver 71
German, b. 1968
89 5/8 x 67 1/4 "
University purchase, Parsons Fund, 2010
WU 2010.0001.0001
Widely celebrated as a chronicler of his generation, Wolfgang Tillmans became known in the early 1990s for his photographs of the gay community and club scenes in London and Berlin. Over the years Tillmans’s visual archive has expanded to include a variety of themes as well as more abstract works that explore the medium of photography itself. Silver 71 exemplifies this abstract turn. A large-scale vertical image in different shades of pink, it is part of a series of photographs, begun in the late 1990s, that the artist made without the use of a camera. To create it, Tillmans ran photosensitive paper through a processing machine, where the paper picked up dirt and silver residue, and then exposed it to light, the specks leaving an imprint of their presence on the surface. While the abstract image seems more painterly than photographic, it is nonetheless still a photograph, and in that sense it still serves as an index, if not of “reality” in any common sense, of the material conditions of the medium itself. [Permanent collection label, 2016]