It is very difficult to come up with something new within the genre of fashion photography, which is highly codified, conventional and often boring in its perfection.
Think super skinny models who have barely hit adolescence, perfect lighting, flawless complexions and settings that are always perfect.
Precisely what Juergen Teller (born 1964) does not do.
He practises a certain kind of “bad photography” in a similar vein to what we’d call “bad painting”, which also leads him to immortalize nude old ladies and create images with compositions that are as unconventional as his lighting.
But when I met him it was in Paris at the opening of his exhibition at the Suzanne Tarasieve Gallery.
He was holding a glass of white wine in one hand, and a succession of cigarettes in the other.
That day, the man with the piercing eyes was dressed in a very large red puffer jacket he claims to have had since he was 15 years old, a fuschia-pink hat, pink and grey trainers, and a pink t-shirt flaunting the merits of the exhibition of one of his colleagues and compatriots, Wolfgang Tillmans, at the Tate Gallery in London.
Juergen Teller is stylish, in his own way. And his exhibition is excellent.
To sum up the spirit of the exhibition, we could say that it shows the sticky cohabitation between man and animal in a kind of chaotic visual mess.
Giant snails crawl up poor Juergen’s leg, who wears a top emblazoned with the European flag.
A green frog emerges from a human mouth.
Bodies and landscapes are sometimes arranged in three-part compositions and Juergen, succumbing to the temptations of exhibitionism, doesn’t pass up the chance to display himself lying completely naked, with a slight paunch, holding multicoloured balloons, in much the same way that he shows the details of women’s bodies.
As the art critic Eric Troncy rightly says, the good thing is that if he makes fun of anything, it is only ever himself.
The following comprises five questions which the artist took his time to answer. He put on a fur coat for the occasion, on loan from the fashion brand Céline who he obviulsy had done a shoot for that same day.
Juergen Teller responds seriously to serious questions, but posing all the while like an African dandy the one we call “sapeur”.
He is a true master of image.
What is really German about yourself?
What is boring about the fashion world?
Is there a conceptual difference between the works you show in your galleries and the ones you do for fashion brands?
One can feel like everything has already been done in photography. Is it difficult to create new images?
What do you want people to remember about you?
Until 3 March. suzanne-tarasieve.com.