Terry Richardson Sullies Pharrell’s Curatorial Debut

Takashi Murakami, Portrait of Pharrell and Helen - Dance (2014). Acrylic and platinum leaf on canvas mounted on board. Photo: Terry Richardson, courtesy Galerie Perrotin.

G I R L,” Pharrell William‘s first turn as curator, at Paris’s Galerie Perrotin, has come under fire from the Guardian for including a photograph by Terry Richardson, who has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by several of his models. The article contends that the controversial photographer’s presence runs counter to the exhibition’s supposed aim to “celebrate women who are above all free, liberated by artists and their boundless, unfettered imagination.”

Despite the inclusion of works by prominent female artists such as Cindy Sherman and Marina Abramović, and feminist art collective Guerrilla Girls, the show actually features one more male artist than female artists. The concept is further diluted by a slew of pieces prominently featuring Pharrell (see artnet News report), which seem to serve more as advertisements for his record, also titled G I R L, than having anything to do with actual women.

Even disregarding Richardson’s alleged sexual misconduct (he has never been formally charged), his photo, depicting a woman’s midsection, with a chocolate heart suspended in front of her vagina and “Eat Me” written above in pink lettering, is a blatant example of sexual objectification that seems fundamentally at odds with the show’s quasi-feminist ethos.

Pharrell, who hired Richardson to shoot his wedding, told the Guardian that “we want people to talk about these issues; we want to spark conversation. Just because you’re a good girl doesn’t mean you don’t have naughty thoughts.”

Gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin stood behind the photo while giving a tour of the show, telling the Guardian that “this is a vision of women that exists, and is represented.” As for Richardson himself, Perrotin added: “He’s a photographer that’s very important. We’re behind him. He’s a very good guy.”

The Guardian article goes on to say that Perrotin claims that the models who have spoken out against Richardson have fabricated their complaints.


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