Born in Erlangen, Germany
Lives and works in London, UK
For HENZEL STUDIO, Teller re-appropriated a photograph of Vivienne Westwood.
“I’ve known Vivienne Westwood for ages, and we’ve been working together on her advertising campaigns for many years. I was always keen on her and her look, her courage and her attitude, not least where politics are concerned. She’s not actually interested in photography at all, but when I asked her to do some nude pictures, she trusted me completely and thought the idea of doing them now, at the age of 68, was really lovely. I’m delighted how coquettish and youthful and sexually attractive Vivienne looks in the pictures – and she really is all of those things.”
Juergen Teller is considered one of the most important contemporary photographers of our time and is one of the few artists who has managed to operate successfully both in the art world and at the center of the commercial sphere. Teller entered the London photography scene through the music industry, taking photographs for record covers of artists including Björk, Cocteau Twins, PJ Harvey, Courtney Love and Sinead O’Connor. Teller’s photographs first appeared in the late 80’s and included portraits of Kate Moss when she was just 15, spearheading the shift that was to follow in the representation of beauty and fashion. In the early 90’s he photographed Nirvana backstage and started a decade-long relationship capturing the behind the scenes at Helmut Lang’s fashion shows. Teller’s provocative interventions in conventional celebrity portraiture are apparent in works such as a photograph of Victoria Beckham, in which we only see her bare, high-heeled legs flopping over the side of a Marc Jacobs shopping bag. Vivienne Westwood reclines nude on a floral settee in a startling triptych whilst Björk and her son swim in the Blue Lagoon in an intimate portrait. Subverting the conventional relationship of the artist and model, Teller himself often figures as the muse in his photographs, seen for example in the Louis XV series with Charlotte Rampling. Whatever the setting, all his subjects collaborate in a way that allows for the most surprising poses and emotional intensity. His more personal work consist of capsuled series of intimate family moments, including Ed in Japan which compellingly records a trip with his wife Sadie Coles and their then baby son, Irene im Wald, shot in the forest with his mother in his hometown of Erlangen, and Keys to the House, photographed in the British countryside. Driven by a desire to tell a story in every picture he takes, Teller has shaped his own distinct and instantly recognizable style, which combines humor, self-mockery, emotional honesty and raw emotion.