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Dame Vivienne Westwood by Juergen Teller, 2014  Copyright: National Portrait Gallery, London
Dame Vivienne Westwood by Juergen Teller, 2014
Copyright: National Portrait Gallery, London

As London Fashion Week draws to a close, the National Portrait Gallery unveiled today its latest commissioned portrait – a photograph of Dame Vivienne Westwood in her garden by artist and photographer Juergen Teller.

Commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery and made possible by the J.P. Morgan Fund for New Commissions, the portrait has gone on public display for the first time today to celebrate ten years of the company’s support towards new commissions for the Gallery’s Collection.

In the large, 4 foot high, almost full-length photograph, Dame Vivienne is captured standing in the back garden of her London home. An informal and intimate portrayal of the celebrated fashion designer, Dame Vivienne is shown wearing a loose-fitting peach cardigan and her white hair is cropped short, both of which match the colours of two large roses in the bushes behind her. She is standing in a relaxed manner on her garden path, with clasped hands and pursed lips, looking directly at the viewer.

Juergen Teller has previously worked with Dame Vivienne on a number of her fashion campaigns and was invited to take on this commission by both the Gallery and Dame Vivienne due to this existing friendship and Teller’s familiarity with her work and style. On sitting for Teller, Dame Vivienne has said: ‘Photography isn’t like painting, where you can decide how you want someone to look, but Juergen manages it. It must be something to do with where he places you in the picture, and the space he leaves around you’.

Dame Vivienne Westwood is one of Britain’s leading fashion designers and businesswomen. She is also a campaigner on human rights abuses and climate change. In the 1970s, with partner Malcolm McLaren, she co-founded the boutique Let it Rock, later renamed SEX, on London’s King’s Road. It sold Westwood’s designs, which defined the British Punk movement. Westwood and McLaren’s first catwalk show was staged in 1981. Diverse sources have inspired Westwood’s subsequent solo collections including world cultures, eighteenth-century French painting, corsets and crinolines. Twice named Designer of the Year, Westwood is renowned for original cutting and tailoring techniques. A retrospective exhibition of her work was held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2004, and she was created Dame in 2006.

Juergen Teller studied at the Bayerische Staatslehranstalt für Photographie in Munich, before moving to London in 1986. Considered one of the most important photographers of his generation, Teller has successfully navigated both the art world and commercial photography since beginning his career in the late 1980s, blurring the boundaries between his commissioned and personal work in his numerous publications and exhibitions. In 2003, Teller was awarded the Citibank Prize for Photography, and, in 2007 was asked to represent the Ukraine as one of five artists in the 52nd Venice Biennale. He has published over thirty artist’s books and exhibited internationally, including solo shows at the Photographer’s Gallery, London (1998), Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2004), Foundation Cartier, Paris (2006), Daelim Contemporary Art Museum, Seoul (2011), the Institute of Contemporary Art, London (2013) and Deste Foundation, Athens (2014) amongst others.

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘This intimate photograph of Dame Vivienne is a thoughtful and distinctive portrayal of one of Britain’s most influential designers and campaigners, created by Juergen Teller, a long-term creative collaborator. I am hugely grateful to J.P. Morgan for their generous support over the past ten years towards such an important programme of commissions.’

Juergen Teller’s portrait of Dame Vivienne Westwood was commissioned by the Gallery’s Trustees and made possible by J.P. Morgan through the Fund for New Commissions. Other National Portrait Gallery commissions supported by J.P. Morgan include Baroness Helena Kennedy by Chris Levine, 2013; Dame Maggie Smith by James Lloyd, 2012; Shami Chakrabarti by Gillian Wearing, 2011; Sir James Dyson by Julian Opie, 2011; Dame Anne Owers by Diarmuid Kelley, 2010; Sir Willard W White by Ishbel Myserscough, 2009; Dame Zaha Hadid by Michael Craig-Martin, 2008; Sir Paul Nurse by Jason Brooks, 2008; Sustained Endeavour (Sir Steve Redgrave) by Dryden Goodwin, 2006; Sir David Hare by Dame Paula Rego, 2005; Dame Judi Dench by Alessandro Raho, 2004; David Beckham by Sam Taylor-Johnson (Sam Taylor-Wood), 2004.

This photograph is the first portrait of Dame Vivienne commissioned by the Gallery’s Trustees for the Collection. It joins a number of acquired photographs of Dame Vivienne in the Collection by photographers including Jane Bown, Mario Testino, David Secombe, Angus McBean, Fergus Greer and Bryan Adams.

A postcard of the portrait will be available exclusively from National Portrait Gallery Shops from November (RRP 70p).

Dame Vivienne Westwood by Juergen Teller is in Room 38a in the Ground Floor Lerner Contemporary Galleries at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from Monday 15 September 2014, Admission Free.


Fashion designer
By Juergen Teller (b.1964), 2014
C-type digital print, (1220mm x 810mm)


Dame Vivienne Westwood by Juergen Teller, 2014 ©National Portrait Gallery, London



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