Photographer who photographed Rihanna for Vogue magazine was accused of plagiarism

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Photographs of Juergen Teller are reminiscent of the works of African-American artist Mickalene Thomas.

In 2017 German photographer Jürgen Teller shot singer Rihanna for the cover of French Vogue, which was released in November of the same year. Cover-story consisted of photographs and collages in the style of the 70’s; Rihanna was photographed in dresses with bright, mostly ethnic, prints.

@VogueParis #GuestEditor for December issue! 3 photographers, 3 editorials, 3 covers! Cover #1 Shot by #JuergenTeller Styled by #AnastasiaBarbieri Hair by @YusefHairNYC Makeup by #Yadim Nails by @redhotnails

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Eight months later, Twitter users noticed that Teller’s photos resembled the works of African-American artist Mickalene Thomas. She became famous for her collages, which depict black women.

“[Teller’s photos for Vogue]–a bad copy of the works of Mickalene Thomas,” wrote art critic Antwaun Sargent on twitter.

Sargent noted that the same gallery–New York’s Lehmann Maupin–is promoting the work of Teller and Thomas. The next day, representatives of the gallery issued a statement in which they said that Thomas deserved recognition for her contribution to contemporary art and visual culture. “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.”

“If they didn’t copy MIckalene’s work then why would Vogue Paris hashtag her name when they posted the shoot on Instagram?” wrote Sargent. After the critic drew attention to this, the post in the Vogue Paris Instagram was edited.


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