REVIEW: JUERGEN TELLER – “The Master II” (2010)

David Hockney smoking, Bridlington, 2008

If one is properly exposed to it and assuming that one has an “eye” for these things, Juergen Teller’s “aesthetic” becomes very recognizable. Not quite so much as to harm the effectiveness but much. Yes, in his case, this is a good thing. If pressed for a brief description, one would probably describe his “look” as a “snapshot aesthetic” but to do so would fall a bit short of the mark. Yes, of course, it’s a member of the “snapshot” family of aesthetics yet this is only part of the equation.

If one goes further with this description and assuming that the right combination of words can successfully line up with an aesthetic approach, Juergen’s aesthetic would likely “look” something like this: garish and golden, glaring with “flash”!, vanillas and whites, yellows and oranges, imperfections from “perfections”, raw and glitterish – luscious in feel, flesh and “sin” – sex and skin… culture, filth, history, ugliness, commerce, vulgarity and aristocracy… all somehow holding hands.

Okay, now with that aesthetic in your head (assuming that the description created a mental image for you) and the imagery in front of you within this piece, you can envision what Steidl’s The Master II (2010), contains. It’s a stellar little book – a narrative of elements from the core of Teller’s approach (described above)… made up of images that are collected, sequenced and arranged with skillful calculation. An arrangement if you will of an aesthetic and a man… the physical “product” of his internal machinations, his commercial calculations, his creations and imaginations… his “efforts”.

“The Master II”, a little green soft-bound thing, is a bit of a riddle (as is the title – a tongue-in-cheek self-reference) for contained within is more than would appear from the initial examination. In fact, the cover looks a bit like a corporate handbook, printed in the copy room and ready to guide you through some rather boring topic, perhaps “safety policies in case of emergency”, etc. But don’t let that fool you – the cover is simply part of the plan, the “Master” plan. Dakota Fanning extends to David Hockney and Hockney to Gerhard Richter, and Richter to Horn to Eggleston to Foster. Paradis to McQueen to Hamilton to Cole. Vivienne to Moon.


Richard Hamilton

All are connected and the connection is Juergen.

Working with Marc Jacobs over the past 11 years, it would appear for all intents and purposes that Teller is firmly planted dead center in the industry of fashion. Perhaps his imprint is forever embedded there but don’t let that taint you or steer you down some preconceived path. Commerce and its productions and its ambitions are adjoined to Teller, yet still, they are only a facet of the man and the art. The art then is a thing unto itself.

For a view into Teller, pick this little green book up.


Doug Rickard

ASX CHANNEL: Juergen Teller

(© Doug Rickard, 2010. All rights reserved. All images © copyright the photographer and/or publisher)

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