Juergen Teller

Museo Villa Pignatelli - Casa della Fotografia, Naples / Italy

April 13–May 19, 2019
April 29, 2019
Museo Villa Pignatelli - Casa della Fotografia
Riviera di Chiaia, 200

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“When I started working in America, they asked me—Where is the money shot?
I looked at them puzzled.—Show me the money shot, they repeated.
Here they are, the money shots”
Juergen Teller

Juergen Teller Handbags is the last project by the photographer Juergen Teller. The exhibition curated by Mario Codognato and Adriana Rispoli in collaboration with Juergen Teller Studio and promoted by the Polo Museale della Campania is designed for Museo Pignatelli – Casa della Fotografia in Naples and it is totally dedicated to photographs containing one of the greatest fetishes of fashion: the Handbag. An accessory that is essential and superfluous, an object that is as key in the fashion industry as it is difficult to represent. The bag becomes an expedient to tell the modernity through the irreverent touch of the artist.

Collected in Teller’s 30-year career in the fashion world, the exhibition presents more than 600 photographs exhibited as the open deployment of a catalogue or through the direct exposure of tear sheets from Juergen Teller Handbags book. The object becomes part of a wider narrative—through the direct participation of models and characters of the star system taken in the most disparate geographical contexts, which betray its globe trotter attitude, both in surreal atmospheres and in banal and everyday contexts.

The handbag’s expedient allows the public to retrace the history of fashion through the campaigns for well-known fashion houses, from Marc Jacobs to Vivienne Westwood, but also through the artist’s private life, breaking the barriers between the various contexts and discourses of his work.

Bewildering, playful and sometimes even an end in themselves, the photographs on display, despite a common thread in the feminine symbol, are the direct testimony of Teller’s own life, as already in the famous Go-sees project of 1999 in which Teller photographed for a year all the girls who knocked on his door to show off their portfolios.

Professional models mingle with actors, dancers, stylists, artists, singers, children, sculptures and puppets in the most disparate settings, indoor and outdoor, in landscapes or in cities, museums and supermarkets, in ultimately provocative visions. It all coexists in the kaleidoscopic vision of the artist, clearly revealing a participatory amusement. "It doesn’t satisfy me to just photograph things—that’s boring. Everything I do is like a self-portrait" (J.T.) and so we see it self-portrayed without veils in the rooms of the Parisian hotel where he set the work Louis XV with his muse Charlotte Rampling in 2004 or alongside Cindy Sherman in a game of disguising, but also in the forest of Ukraine in 2007 for the Football and Fashion project, the two  passions of his life.

Vivienne Westwood, Sofia Coppola, Asia Argento, Kate Moss, Tilda Swinton, Milla Jovovich, Cindy Sherman, John Malkovic, Winona Ryder, Gisele Bündchen, Michael Clark, Helena Bonham Carter—and himself—are just some of the characters recognisable in the shots to which are added the only bare legs of former singer of Spice Girls Victoria Beckham in the unforgettable image of 2007. With a dazzling light that obliterates the surrounding space—a most typical characteristic of Teller’s style—and with the denial of the subject this work sums up artist’s modus operandi which blends with ease and irony all the fields of application of his work from the more commercial related one to fashion more closely related to art, feeding on each other and resulting in that freedom of vision that made him one of the greatest representatives of contemporary photography.

The catalogue Juergen Teller Handbags is published by Steidl. The exhibition is sponsored by Palace Skateboards. 

Press: pm-cam.uffstampa [​at​] beniculturali.it

Organization by Editori Paparo srl.