Art in Review
By Karen Rosenberg
540 West 26th Street, Chelsea
Through Oct. 17
Juergen Teller's most memorable photographs aren't strictly artistic or commercial. They seem to arise when Mr. Teller gets carried away with a specific assignment, as he did in 2004 with his physically and psychologically revealing portraits of the English actress Charlotte Rampling at the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris.
He's done it again in the series "Le Louvre," commissioned by the French magazine Paradis and currently on view in Chelsea. For this body of work Mr. Teller photographed Ms. Rampling and the model Raquel Zimmermann as they strolled through the Louvre without a stitch of clothing. (The shoot took place after dark, when the museum was closed.)
Mr. Teller's subjects project ennui in the most spectacular of settings, as in his well-known Marc Jacobs advertisements. So does the photographer, who crops the shots strangely and even takes amateurish close-ups that obscure paintings with flashbulb glare. In one startlingly casual image, the women lean their bare bottoms against the rail that guards the Mona Lisa. ("You know, it might have been sort of a sacrilege thing," Ms. Rampling acknowledges in the pages of Paradis.)
They also conduct a subtle dialogue about age. Ms. Zimmerman, who is almost four decades younger than Ms. Rampling, pouts and slouches; Ms. Rampling raises her chin and throws her shoulders back. When they stand next to marble sculptures, as they do in several pictures, the result is a bizarre fusion of Thomas Struth and Vanessa Beecroft.
The real fantasy at play in these photographs has nothing to do with exhibitionism or even with eternal youth: it's the idea of having the Louvre all to yourself.