DALLAS — Juergen Teller’s first U.S. museum exhibition opens tonight with a party at the Dallas Contemporary.
The show features a series of photos with text by the photographer that describes the stories behind the images. They were selected from a weekly full-page column that Teller has been writing for Zeit magazine, the lifestyle supplement to the liberal German newspaper Die Zeit.
“I’ve been doing it for a year and a half,” says Teller the day before the opening, explaining that the photos were taken from his archives. “It was very hard to translate. I had someone else translate it first, but it was too formal, so I did it myself. Some things were funnier in German.”
A shot of two of his gay friends kissing in a forest was refused by Men’s Vogue, he notes in one story. Another ruminates on a quick portrait of Yves Saint Laurent that left Teller feeling sad for the designer.
Some are more personal, like a photo of his mother standing next to his father’s grave with a construction site in the background. His mother didn’t like the heavy equipment; Teller did.
“I love the picture of my daughter in the pond,” Teller responds when asked about his favorite images. “She wanted to make that picture. So many times children don’t want to be photographed — they want to play. She showed a real understanding of what I do as a photographer. She said, ‘Daddy, let’s go to work.’”
The photographer also chose to display giant prints from a fashion shoot published in February in Zeit featuring Andrej Pejic, a male model whose delicate features look strikingly feminine.
“I was amazed by this boy — so beautiful,” Teller says. “Usually you have transvestites dressing up as women, and here you don’t have that feeling.”
At the rear of the gallery, some of Teller’s ad campaigns for Marc Jacobs and various books of his photographs are displayed under glass.
“I like the idea that things can exist in different formats — in a gallery, a fashion ad, in books,” he explains. “I quite like that it has a different life.”
Peter Doroshenko, director of the Dallas Contemporary, convinced Teller to do the show.
“It’s a personal story he’s telling straddling the work he does for commercial worlds with personal favorites he does for the art world,” Doroshenko observes. “The works have a lot of poetic and raw energy that a lot of visitors would connect with or not connect with. That’s important for us to engage.”
A similar Teller show with other works published in the Zeit column opened two weeks ago in Moscow, and Teller departs Saturday to mount another exhibit in Korea.
“Three museum shows in three weeks is crazy,” he admits. “It was all by chance.”
The Dallas Contemporary is also debuting “The Bold & the Beautiful,” a gallery of Polaroids of celebrities, models and designers by Ezra Petronio, the publisher of Self Service magazine and art director of fashion campaigns including Chloé.
While Teller met the press in the galleries, Petronio was sequestered in a back room snapping Polaroids of major donors to the Dallas Contemporary. The series may ultimately appear in Self Service, said Claire Thomson-Jonville, managing editor.
“Usually he shoots celebrities — not middle-aged housewives,” jokes Muffin Lemak as she waited her turn to be photographed.
Michelle Nussbaumer brought her European Great Dane puppy, Loretta, to the sitting.
“You are such a good dog,” Petronio gushes, and Loretta tries to lick his lips.