Though Juergen Teller is best known for his longstanding association with Marc Jacobs and other fashion labels, he makes no distinction between his commercial and fine art photography. An exhibition of recent work by Teller opens at Lehmann Maupin’s Chrystie Street gallery on Friday, February 10. If Teller’s style by now looks unremarkable, that’s because he helped invent the ubiquitous raw, documentary aesthetic that owes so much to Nan Goldin’s snapshots. Glamour becomes more believable, more alluring, when mixed with off-the-cuff awkwardness or abjection.
Terry Richardson is a kindred spirit, similarly equivocating between his fashion photography and his fine art. Last year in N+1, Gemma Seif investigated Richardson’s casual comparison of porn, Iraqi prison torture photographs, and fashion photography, getting at something unsettling and coercive beneath the photographer’s goofy, charismatic demeanor. Richardson and Teller made possible American Apparel’s signature sleazy amateur photo shoots, and their influence dominates the advertisements I see on the subway platform, and for that matter, the photography I see on my Tumblr dashboard.