juergen teller curates robert mapplethorpe's female muses and romantic nudes
On what would have been Mapplethorpe's 70th birthday, the exhibition Teller on Mapplethorpe brings together two audacious legends of art and commercial photography.
Cookie Mueller, 1978, © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission.
Robert Mapplethorpe would have turned 70 this month, but the photos he took before his death from AIDs in the late 80s still appear radical today. In fact Mapplethorpe's commercial fashion work — which included shoots for Italian Vogue and a series of party pictures for Interview — was often just as beautiful and boundary-pushing as those male nudes were. Few photographers alive today have proven quite so adept at navigating the worlds of art and commerce, one of them being German photographer Juergen Teller — who has been tapped by London's Alison Jacques Gallery to curate a new exhibition of Mapplethorpe's work. The show "Teller on Mapplethorpe" is a selection of 48 images, some iconic and others rarely seen, that bring together two legends of art and (anti) fashion photography.
"Provocative and subversive, making images which are the antithesis of conventional fashion photography, Juergen Teller was the only choice to curate this special exhibition of Robert's work," said Jacques. "There are obvious parallels between these two artists and I believe Juergen's eye will bring a new reading of Robert's work."
The career-spanning selection encompasses everything from still life and nature — including a plate of frogs — to muscular nudes and early Polaroids. The sexually explicit photographs are softened with more subtle explorations of perfection in form, while the portraits balance bigger names with unknown kids and cult film heroines. A fresh-faced Madeline Stowe appears alongside a tattoo artist's unnamed son, Susan Sarandon's daughter Eva Amurri as a small child, and early John Waters muse Cookie Mueller. Teller has also enlarged two images to over four meters to paste onto the gallery walls as a backdrop. One shows Mapplethorpe's first partner David Croland wearing a gag, and the other features the model Marty Gibson posing nude on a beach.
'Teller on Mapplethorpe' is on view at Alison Jacques Gallery in London through January 7, 2017.
Text Hannah Ongley
Photography © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, courtesy of Allison Jacques Gallery