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Wolfgang Tillmans

Victoria Line, glass partition, from Portrait series


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Wolfgang Tillmans’s intimate portraits of passengers on the London Tube thematize altered constitutions of space and time in our transitory urban landscape. Shot in the “non-place” of the subway system, these tightly framed portraits share a fragmentation that parallels the experience of spatial and temporal dislocation in modern society. In "Josephine in tube" (WU 2001.0012.0015) we see parts of a standing man and a seated woman whose gaze is directed somewhere outside of the picture frame. Separated by a vertical pole, their bodies seem to almost touch, creating a palpable sense of tension. "Victoria Line, glass partition" conveys a more compressed space—juxtaposing the unfocused stare of another seated woman shown in profile with the back of a passenger’s jacket and a disembodied hand grasping a blue pole—while "Lutz in tube" (WU 2001.0012.0003) focuses on one man’s detached expression. Examining the distracted faces of each of Tillmans’s subjects, one might intimate sensations of monotony or boredom. While travel on subway trains can distort perceptions of space and distance and generate feelings of disconnection, it also offers an alternative to the inundation of stimuli and temporal disruptions characteristic of urban experience—a moment of possible rest and contemplation. [Exhibition brochure text, 2014]

  • Artist Wolfgang Tillmans (German, b. 1968)
  • Title Victoria Line, glass partition, from Portrait series
  • Date 2000
  • Medium Chromogenic color print
  • Edition description 1/10
  • Dimensions unframed | 16 x 12 in.
    framed | 17 7/8 x 13 7/8 x 3/4 in.
  • Credit line University purchase, Charles H. Yalem Art Fund, 2001
  • Object number WU 2001.0012.0008

Encountering the City: The Urban Experience in Contemporary Art
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 09/12/2014 - 01/04/2015

Reality Bites: Making Avant-garde Art in Post-Wall Germany
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 02/09/2007 - 04/29/2007

Contemporary German Art: Recent Acquisitions
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 01/17/2003 - 04/20/2003

neugerriemschneider Gallery, Berlin

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