Juergen Teller, Paradis @Lehmann Maupin

JTF (just the facts): A total of 9 color images, framed in white with no mat, hung in the main gallery space. All of the images are c-prints, in editions of 5, ranging in size from 50×30 to 70×50. The works were originally commissioned by the French magazine Paradis and were shot in 2009; a limited edition book of the work is forthcoming. (Installation shots at right.)

Comments/Context: Fashion photographer Juergen Teller clearly has his pick of choice assignments: who else gets access to shoot in the Musee du Louvre when it’s empty in the evening? And who else can deliver Raquel Zimmermann (model) and Charlotte Rampling (actress) to participate in the project? And nude no less?

There is remarkable sense of audaciousness and rule breaking in these pictures: nudes lounging on the couches in the galleries, standing stock still like mannequins amidst classical sculpture, and casually posing with the Mona Lisa; the jarring juxtapositions clearly have tremendous shock value, and will therefore appeal to a certain group of contemporary/fashion collectors who thrive on controversy and recklessness.

As photographs, however, the images are pretty underwhelming. Over bright flash, dead pan looks, and offhand compositions detract from what could have been a spectacularly memorable set-up. (Or perhaps that is the point?) The images of art works themselves on their own are the weakest; these kinds of mischievous shots don’t tell us much that is new. Overall, I had a profound sense of a missed opportunity as I walked through the gallery; all the pieces were in place for something unexpected and brilliant; how these pictures ended up being less than exciting is a mystery. So go to this show primarily for the hype, and ruminate on what might have been.

Collector’s POV: The images in the show are priced between $10000 and $17000, based on size. Teller’s work has very little auction history, so gallery retail is likely the only viable option for collectors at this point.

Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)

Transit Hub:
  • Reviews: ArtObserved (here), WSJ Speakeasy (here), The L Magazine (here)
  • New York magazine article 2008 (here)
Through October 17th

540 West 26th Street
New York, NY 10001

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