Critics’ Picks

Juergen Teller, Frogs and Plates No. 20, 2016, color photograph, 10 x 8".

Juergen Teller, Frogs and Plates No. 20, 2016, color photograph, 10 x 8".


Juergen Teller

Blum & Poe | Tokyo
1-14-34 Jingumae, Shibuya 5th Floor
February 4–April 1, 2017

What do Charlotte Rampling and William Eggleston have in common? Both can be found in this show of Juergen Teller’s large-format prints. Teller is also seen posing naked on the back of a donkey. In another image, Eggleston, with a cigarette in one hand and a camera around his neck, stands before a pink gorilla, whose gaze he attempts to reciprocate. In a third work, Rampling holds a fox in her hands while sitting barefoot in front of a wall of fair-faced concrete; a pair of shoes lie on a large ashtray beside her. These photographs seem simultaneously casual and staged—and this is classic Teller, just as one knows him from his portraits of other personalities in fashion, music, art, and culture since the early 1990s.

At the heart of this exhibition, however, are not silver-screen greats such as Rampling and artist grandees like Eggleston but rather frogs, countless frogs. More than thirty framed images of green, yellow-orange, brown to black, spotted, speckled frogs, supplied with warts or smoothly glistening, come across as awkward but, in a certain way, at one with themselves. They’re arranged on, with, and around white plates. The seemingly arbitrary hanging of these small-format images supports the multiplicity of the pictured creatures and at first doesn’t allow the search for a typology of frog forms to arise within the viewer. The exhibition space, with its open glass front onto the Yoyogi Park and its extension of the gallery into office spaces, completes the way with which the amphibians join the society of fox, donkey, and gorilla and communicate with the celebrities of this world. But the frogs are the actual stars of the show––every single one of them.

Translated from German by Diana Reese.