Wolfgang Tillmans: Silver

Galerie Buchholz, Berlin

“The ‘Silver’ works, which I began in the late 1990’s, are in some ways the opposite of the abstract pictures that I make with lights on paper in the darkroom (like ’Freischwimmer’, ’Blushes’, ’Mental Pictures’, ’Super Collider’ etc.). They are actually chemograms and all I do is set up the parameter surrounding their making. The imaging process is subjected to the inherent logic of the material; it is mostly purely mechanical.”

  1. Wolfgang Tillmans

Galerie Buchholz presents the first Wolfgang Tillmansexhibition to be dedicated exclusively to Silver works.

The Silver works were first developed by Wolfgang Tillmans in the late 1990’s. Photo paper, at times unexposed, at times exposed to various sources of colored light, is led through the processing machine in which is left – in varying degrees of concentration – water and traces of used chemicals, particularly silver nitrate (thus the nameSilver). Streaks, scratches, dents and deposits occur as the photo paper travels through the machine, altering not only the colors but also the physical surface of the paper. In this way, the Silver works stem from an interplay between mechanical procedure and a natural mineral-chemical process. Wolfgang Tillmans likes describing the Silver works as the result of an observation of nature.

It is thus that incomparable, unexpected photographs come into being, unrepeatable, whose beauty and idiosyncrasy lie as much in the level of detail as the infinitude of the information they contain. The role of chance in the creation of the pictures, and the fine nuances that result, strengthen a factual and material assuredness that here is not least closely connected to a physical desire. The reality effect of the Silverworks so corresponds to a physical reality of affect, one that refuses a purely abstract, distanced, name-able perception. In this experience of coincidence and physical reaction can also be read as a kind of symbol for the status and the end of analogue (silver-) photography: here specifically the traditional process of analogue photo development as the process of a reaction of chemical elements.


Wolfgang Tillmans’ works have been shown lately at the following major institutions: Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Kunsthalle Zürich; MAM Museu de Arte Modernas de Sao Paulo; Museo del Banco de la Republica, Bogota; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K21, Düsseldorf; Museo de Arte de Lima; Rencontres d’Arles, Arles; Museo de Artes Visuales, Santiago de Chile.


Opening reception: Thu 28 Nov, 7-9 pm 


  • Artists:
    Wolfgang Tillmans
  • Open:
    Thursday, 28 November 2013
  • Close:
    Saturday, 04 January 2014
  • Address:
    Galerie Buchholz, Fasanenstraße 30, 10719 Berlin
  • Mail:
  • Phone:
    +49 30 88 62 40 56
  • Web:
    Galerie Buchholz
  • Opening hour:
    Tue-Sa | 11-18
  • Closing day:
    Mon, Sun
  • Photo credits:
    1. Wolfgang Tillmans: Silver 115, 2013, C-print, framed, 181 x 236 cm; 2. Wolfgang Tillmans, Silver 121, 2013, C-print, framed, 181 x 236 cm. Courtesy Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne.


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