A months-old shoot of Rihanna by German artist Juergen Teller stirs the net, with many observers noting that the similarities to the aesthetic of artist Mickalene Thomas have been a little too close – without giving her credit.
Originally shot for the January 2018 issue of Vogue Paris, to “celebrate the style and charisma of a modern-day icon,” the photographs feature the pop diva in settings with retro-inspired, mixed-and-matched décor. Voices came up, noting that the style of Teller’s photographs of Rihanna draws on pretty similar images by Thomas, whose signature style are features of black women in such interior settings.
Viewers on Instagram and Twitter pointed out the similarities between the works. A Twitter user named Steve Jxseph, whose tweet featuring his observation has been retweeted more than 2,000 times, wrote, “I just wanna point out that this is very similar to mickalene thomas’ work and juergen NEEDS to explain what’s going on.”
In a statement issued Tuesday morning, Lehmann Maupin gallery, who represents both photographers, noted that Teller’s Vogue Paris photographs have “rightly been compared” to Thomas’s collages. “Mickalene has earned the right to be recognized and commended for her ground-breaking contributions to contemporary art and visual culture, and for a signature aesthetic that she has been cultivating for decades,” the gallery wrote. “As Mickalene’s long-time gallery and advocate, we vigorously stand by her in defending the originality of her work.”
The gallery said it is “hopeful that there will be a resolution” between the two artists – stay tuned.