“I never really think of anyone as models, even the models,” Juergen Teller has said, and “Everything I choose to photograph, I think is beautiful.” It was with these liberating beliefs in mind that Teller approached his photographs for the 2021 Best Performances issue of W magazine. Notes About My Work is Teller’s tongue-in-cheek response to the feedback he received on this controversial portfolio.
Best Performances is an annual issue of W, showcasing cinema’s stars of the moment as chosen by the magazine’s larger-than-life editor-at-large Lynn Hirschberg. In Los Angeles Teller photographed 28 actors in total, the established and the emerging, from Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney to Steven Yeun and Otmara Marrero, all posing with (and sometimes even on top of) cars—a quintessential feature of the city he wanted to celebrate. W was delighted with the result—celebrities looking fabulously normal, fashion championed as a way to enjoy life—yet online reactions were mixed. Teller was praised as “a perfect choice” for his “aversion to excess glamour,” but also subject to criticism, much misinterpreting his tone and working methods. This book presents Teller’s selection of screenshots of some of these “notes about his work”—a mirror onto social media and a playful reminder that beauty is whatever we choose it to be.
Juergen Teller, born in Erlangen in 1964, studied at the Bayerische Staatslehranstalt für Photographie in Munich. His work has been published in influential magazines such as Vogue, System, i-D, POP and Arena Homme+, and has been the subject of solo exhibitions including those at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris and Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin. Teller won the prestigious Citibank Photography Prize in 2003, and from 2014 to 2019 held a professorship at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste Nürnberg. His books with Steidl include Louis XV (2005), Marc Jacobs Advertising, 1998–2009 (2009), Siegerflieger (2015), The Master IV (2019), Handbags (2019), Leben und Tod (2020), William Eggleston 414 (2020) and Auguri (2022).