Wolfgang Tillmans and The Radical Eye at Tate Modern. March 2017.
The Radical Eye, Elton John’s collection of twentieth century modernist photography is impressive. Great works by Paul Outerbridge, Imogen Cunningham and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy were all on display, beautifully printed (albeit in rather dandy frames!), many of which inspired me to take up photography. Following this I went to the other side of the Tate Modern to the Wolfgang Tillmans show where, to my great surprise, the images I had just seen suddenly seemed not just small (few were larger than 10″ x 8″ prints) but also felt far more culturally distant. Tillmans, working in full colour and sometimes on a huge scale, cheerfully takes on the task of producing all forms of photographic imagery. No genre restrictions for him (The Radical Eye conservatively had themes of portraits, objects, bodies etc.), he gives us everything and more. There are bits of photographic sculpture, political displays and even a room with no pictures at all: just a room with music. It’s not that the The Radical Eye is a bad show. There are numerous undisputed masterpieces there. it’s just they now felt like old masters. Tillmans’ work and especially his ability to use colour – on any scale – felt visceral and immediate. Amusingly, we were welcomed by being told you are allowed to take photos at the show, so here is my shot, looking up at one of Tillmans’ huge unframed hanging giclee prints.