He’s photographed Kate Moss more times than you’ve had hot cappuccinos, he’s taken nude portraits of Vivienne Westwood, got up close and personal with Edward Enninful’s lips, and journeyed trouser-less on a hiking trip with Kim and Kanye. Juergen Teller is a man who has seen it all, with the photographic record to prove it.
While Teller’s fashion photography has established the German-born image-maker as a creative leader, a new exhibition at London’s Alison Jacques Gallery offers a compelling new narrative, focusing on documentary work, as well as editorials. Curated across two rooms, the exhibition is divided into three sections: Go-Sees, Enjoy Your Life! Junior and a new body of work centred around a modern fairy tale. Together they celebrate the nuances of Teller’s eye over the course of his career.
Go-Sees, a seminal project Teller undertook at the start of his career, documents models in the midst of the hustle, flashing their portfolios in candid, off-duty moments between go-sees. This series set a precedent for the core elements that would go on to make Teller one of the most revered fashion photographers of his generation. Candid, over-exposed and unstyled, the images lend a human, humorous feel to an industry which is so often over-composed and airbrushed.
As Shannan Peckham adds in her intro to the book, Juergen Teller Go-Sees: ‘The models in Go-Sees become much more than bearers of externally directed aesthetic values. While the photographic gaze is shaped by and reciprocally shapes the convention of the go-see, Teller suggests that even within these parameters it is possible to find new ways of seeing.’
Enjoy Your Life! Junior flips convention on its head in other ways: the project saw Juergen Teller bring a class of six and seven-year-olds from Bubenreuth Primary school in his hometown to see one of his exhibitions. Inspired by their reactions to the exhibition, Teller consequently had the children take pictures of each other and himself, reversing the relationship between viewer and subject, while continuing to incorporate a sense of play into the imagery. Upstairs, a new body of work from Teller weaves a visual narrative around a modern fairy tale – a man born in London who became a king.
Bookending the multifaceted career (so far) of a man who has established himself through copious advertising campaigns, videos, editorial shoots and solo projects, the new Juergen Teller exhibition celebrates the best of the photographer’s idiosyncratic style, stepping outside of the fashion realm to communicate the communal, universal nature of his vision.
Juergen Teller: Go-Sees, Bubenreuth Kids and a Fairytale about a King… is on at Alison Jacques Gallery, London, November 24, 2017 – January 13, 2018.