Whether he focused his camera on subway rides, dancers at the legendary Studio 54 or hip-hop culture in the streets of New York, Spiller captured all the many facets of a bygone world in images as varied, as fascinating and as absurd as that world itself had been.
In the process, Spiller combines his curiosity for his fellow human beings with a profound understanding of the beauty of the banal and mundane in the world around him. This secures his place in the annals of great Swiss photography. Like many of the well-known names that came before him, he managed to translate empathy into form through strength of willpower. Or, as his long-time friend and companion Paul Nizon so aptly put it: 'I’ve often asked myself what made Willy Spiller’s photography so forthright, so refreshing and so riveting. I believe it’s a blend of unabashed curiosity and roguish complexity combined with a fraternal sense of compassion. This isn’t something you learn at school: it’s more a question of class, of predisposition, and ultimately of character. Behind the swashbuckling, wheeler-dealing facade there’s a dreamer, a man hungry for life and beauty. And that is the reason he sides with humanity, which is just another way of saying that he has an innate love of mankind. That is the way he sees things. And he is driven by a highly developed artistic energy.'