EXHIBITION: Juergan Teller

teller-child Juergen Teller: Woo! If you go down to ICA today in the cold damp and windy days of the New Year you’ll find a collection of works by German photographer Juergen Teller. Best known for his bright and stark unfiltered images of celebrities and commercial work as a fashion photographer he is also a maverick in his style and choices as an artist making him one of the most influential of his generation. As you arrive you are introduced by a collection called Irene im Wald. It’s a series of photos based in the woods near his hometown in Germany. The beautiful pictures are wonderful but also feel quite sinister and are followed with a story that feels like a voice over, a stream of consciousness telling us of an incident that occurred here as well as general musings. A woman wonders through the woods appearing in every other picture appearing at times to look quite lost really. At the central foyer there is a strange choice of pictures. There are five large images, the two facing one another are a black and white image of Kurt Kobain playing the guitar with his hair falling over his face and opposite is a wonderfully bright image of a kitten sitting on a patio and behind it stands a green softened garden. Then taking centre stage are three very stark and overbearing nudes of Vivienne Westwood in various positions. Teller’s nudes are very naked, that’s the only way I suppose I find it best to explain them. Although they are set against something, for example in the Westwood image she is on a decorated chair but you pay no attention because his choice in making the photographs so stark and visually real you see nakedness completely. By the time you reach the first floor you encounter more familiar and commercial works with images of Victoria Beckam for the Marc Jacobs campaign, Kate Moss and Lily Cole. These are more associated with Teller, more so than some of the other wonderful and seemingly more personal pictures. My personal favourite was the image of a puppy being bathed in a kitchen sink next to a beautiful bouquet of flowers called ‘pellitoe, Suffolk 2001’ In the Fox reading room the walls are papered up with countless images of Tellers editorial and advertising works. Images ranging from Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs to nudes and portraitures of celebrities. It feels quite intensive due to this but filled with the familiar, at times curious and uncomfortable too. And I suppose that is how to best describe him, Juergen Teller is an artist and provocateur. His work doesn’t make something beautiful for you if it isn’t beautiful anyway and unadulterated images allow us to see the world and people in a new way that isn’t glossy and filled with a distracting spectrum of colours. He is important because he has created a way of seeing the world through his eyes and he challenges the audience to connect with these unflattering and bemusing works in a basic human way because even if the person in the picture is clothed there is still an emotional nakedness to the art.

23 January – 17 March 2013 at the ICA This exhibition is free.