London, Thursday November 17th, Berners Sreet – the rendez-vous is taken in the Alison Jacques Gallery for the opening. The place is welcoming a new exhibition that gathers two giants of photography: Robert Mapplethorpe depicted by Juergen Teller. The connection is fluid and intuitive, evident and unique; to mark what would have been the 70th birthday of the photographer, here Teller reveals an unexplored aspect of his iconic work.
It is like a dialogue; a discrete conversation. It opens on a larger than life Marty Gibson, the artist's muse – a dreamy smile and a horny mood on the beach. A 12-foot-tall image that Teller printed so large that the dashing penis seems a little less than spectacular; when Mapplethorpe's touch meets Teller's trick... Among the fifty-eight artworks selected by Juergen Teller, another (ad hoc) triptych illustrates this complicity.
The Sluggard, Cookie Mueller and Cock and Devil reveal an artist deeply of his time yet rooted in the Pursuit of Beauty. Juergen Teller unfolds an untold aspect of Robert Mapplethorpe: a romantic perspective of the body adoration, linked here with the HIV epidemic devastation. Therefore, the intuitive beauty of an erect penis may be seen as pure evil.
Juergen Teller's bold curation is maybe the perfect combination to approach differently Mapplethorpe's iconic character. On the second floor, facing the staircase, a photo of Satyr attracts, or rather welcomes the visitor into the mythology of Robert Mapplethorpe. And here is what we see at the first glance: flanked on each side of the room, two more photos. One captures a kitten's innocence while the second, Double Fist, illustrates the purity of forbidden pleasures. None other than Juergen Teller could possibly understand Mapplethorpe as well as it is done here: the sublimation of everyday's life, his love for graphic lines and the fascination for bodies, Juergen Teller explores the multiple facets of the photographer's punk spirit. Robert Mapplethorpe was indeed able to bring powerful meanings free from any theatricality – his art provokes emotion, that is it.