Photographer Wolfgang Tillmans Has Enlisted His Art-Star Friends to Make $50 Posters to Benefit Shuttered Nightclubs and Art Spaces

Art venues, bars, and nightclubs can sell the posters to raise money during this difficult time.

Wolfgang Tillmans, still life (Bühnenbild), 2020. Courtesy of Solidarity 2020.

German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans has brought together 40 international artists, including Thomas Ruff and Elizabeth Peyton, to sell posters to benefit art spaces, nightclubs, music venues, and bars at risk of shuttering because of the lockdown.

“There are many places that may not get help or bailed out because they are informal places, in culture, nightlife, and music. I feel an urgency to do something so they don’t have to close down permanently,” Tillmans told the Guardian. He’s priced the works at $50/€50/£50 each because it is “a similar amount of money that you might have spent at one of these spaces on a night out.”

The fundraising campaign, organized by Tillmans and Between Bridges, the Berlin foundation he founded in 2017, is called Solidarity 2020. Tillmans got the idea after making a limited edition print to support Siegessäule, a free magazine for Berlin’s gay and lesbian community.

“While doing that, [I] realized that there are many different causes that could use editions or prints,” Tillmans told Artnet News. He decided that the best route would be to produce an unlimited edition for a limited period of time, because “a small edition would mean a higher price which is really cutting it off for many, many people.”

Gillian Wearing, <em>All I Ever Wanted Was Love</em> (1992–93). Courtesy of Solidarity 2020.

Gillian Wearing, All I Ever Wanted Was Love (1992–93). Courtesy of Solidarity 2020.

Tillmans’s own poster design is a photograph of a still life arrangement in his studio. He chose it because it was the last image he printed before he shut down operations on March 13. He shot the photo on March 1, after returning to Berlin from a month-long trip around the world,  including a week in Taiwan to work on the staging of an opera production.

“I saw this light in my studio kitchen and these vases which I had enjoyed looking at for a while. There was this particular light hitting behind the image in the photograph and the shelf that was creating this box,”, Tillmans recalled. “Maybe I saw this as a stage set because for a week before I was always looking at a stage. The second part of the title still life (Bühnenbild) means stage set in German, literally stage picture.”

The artist is paying for the printing of all posters and helping the venues with shipping and distribution. The struggling businesses will then sell the posters directly to their supporters, so that they can receive 100 percent of the proceeds. The website directs interested parties to individual business websites to make their purchases.

Nicole Eisenman, <em>Never Forget Kissing in Bars</em> (2020). Courtesy of Solidarity 2020.

Nicole Eisenman, Never Forget Kissing in Bars (2020). Courtesy of Solidarity 2020.

Some artists have created new work for the series, like Nicole Eisenman’s Never Forget Kissing in Bars. Others tapped their archives for thematically appropriate images, like Gillian Wearing’s All I Ever Wanted Was Love, a 1992–93 photograph of a young man holding up a handwritten sign bearing the work’s title, his mouth and nose covered in a bandana.

Other participating artists include Christopher Wool, Jacolby Satterwhite, Betty Tompkins, and Marlene Dumas, with more expected to come.

So far, the campaign has attracted interest from venues in the US, the UK, Germany, and Poland. “In London we are talking to the Arts Technician Emergency Fund, in Poland there is Pogłos, an alternative club in Warsaw, or Artists Space in New York,” said Tillmans. “It is just a start and hopefully it will get picked up by many places.”

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