October 25, 2012

Photographer Mario Testino Exhibition MFA, Boston, 2012-2013

Mario Testino: In Your Face and British Royal Portraits
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Mario Testino: In Your Face, through February 3, 2013 
Mario Testino: British Royal Portraits, through June 16, 2013

Mario Testino’s compelling fashion and celebrity photographs have appeared in international magazines and advertising campaigns for leading fashion houses for the past three decades.  Beginning October 21, the man behind the camera that has captured countless iconic images for Vogue and Vanity Fair is featured in two exhibitions of his work at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA)—Mario Testino: In Your Face and British Royal Portraits

Kate Moss, London, 2006 © Mario Testino 
Photo Courtesy of the artist and MFA, Boston

Mario Testino: In Your Face showcases 122 images by the photographer, known for works that evoke elegance, beauty, style, irreverence, and contradiction. The range and quality of Testino’s career is illustrated in photographs of international superstars, such as models Kate Moss, Stephanie Seymour, and Gisele Bündchen; actors Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow; musicians Mick Jagger, Madonna, and Lady Gaga; and athletes David Beckham and Tom Brady. Mario Testino: British Royal Portraits focuses on the portraits he has taken of generations of the British royal family. Mario Testino has personally chosen the works for these exhibitions. The photographs on view offer a retrospective of his prolific career, which began shortly after Testino’s arrival in London from his native Peru in 1976. In Your Face draws upon thousands of exquisitely styled images that document his creative journey in pursuit—and in celebration—of beauty.  Mario Testino’s photographs are bold, graphic, and “in your face.” The exhibition illustrates fashion, elegance, sex, and nudity, reflecting the photographer’s unique aesthetic and stylistic range. “I am honored to be invited by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to exhibit my work in these two exhibitions, my first in the United States,” said Mario Testino. “These exhibitions are a very personal reflection of the past 30 years in which I have been a photographer.”  

Mario Testino 
Photo Courtesy MFA, Boston

In Your Face provides access to Mario Testino’s world—from models, movie stars, and musicians, to a host of glitterati.  At the entrance to the Gund Gallery, a wall of 16 screens offers behind-the-scenes video of the globetrotting photographer. In addition, visitors to the exhibition can experience Mario Testino in action and recalling career-defining moments on the Museum’s hand-held multimedia guide, which features audio and video selections relating to works in the exhibitions. Among the many famous faces on view are Jennifer Lopez, Keith Richards, Kate Winslet, and Ashton Kutcher. Styled portraits are juxtaposed with candid private party snapshots, nudes with fashion, black-and-white with color, and interiors with exterior settings. These arrangements capture the interplay of mass media, celebrity, and glamour, showcased in an installation that offers the observer a more intimate connection with the works. The photographs, many of them printed on aluminum, rest on shelves running the length of the teal-colored Gund Gallery. Images vary in size, ranging from monumental color prints (8’x6’) to intimately sized (1’x2’) black-and-white snapshots.   

“The MFA’s relationship with Mario Testino began when he came to the Museum in 2010 to participate in the Karsh photography lecture series” said Anne Havinga, Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Senior Curator of Photographs at the MFA.   “These two exhibitions are the result of a wonderful collaboration between Mario and the Museum, and reveal the artist’s perspective on the popular culture of our time.”  

Mario Testino is highly regarded for the photographs of British royalty he has been commissioned to take throughout his career, and he has chosen his personal favorites for the exhibition British Royal Portraits. “I have been so fortunate to have documented key moments in the lives of the British royal family. I have always been inspired by their sense of tradition and duty—it is always a huge honor for me to photograph them and I am delighted that many of these pictures will be on display, together for the first time, in the Herb Ritts gallery at the MFA,” said Mario Testino. 

TRH The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, London, 2010 
© Mario Testino 
Photo Courtesy of the artist and MFA, Boston

British Royal Portraits is the first US showing of the 2010 engagement portraits Testino was commissioned to take of Prince William and Kate Middleton, now TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  Also on view is the iconic and elegant black-and-white portrait he took of Diana, Princess of Wales, which first appeared in Vanity Fair magazine in 1997 and was her last official sitting before her death that year. The framed images of the royals—many measuring approximately 3’ x 4‘—are shown against royal blue walls. They range from a snapshot of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to informal black-and-white images of Prince Charles with his sons William and Harry.  Also on view is the first picture Mario Testino took of members of the House of Windsor a few years after arriving in London from Peru. The photographer snapped an impromptu black-and-white shot of The Queen Mother and her grandson, Prince Edward, as they passed by crowds gathered in London’s streets to celebrate the marriage of HRH The Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. Since then, Mario Testino has become a preferred photographer of the royal family.    

To complement the exhibition Mario Testino: In Your Face, a variety of publications, limited-edition prints by Mario Testino, designer jewelry, and select fashions are being offered in the MFA Bookstore and Shop. The 223-page publication Mario Testino: In Your Face (Taschen, 2012) features 122 black-and-white and color images taken by Testino from 1993 through 2012 and includes contributions by Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief of Vogue; Jennifer Allen, editor of the contemporary art and culture magazine, frieze d/e; and Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA. Other Testino books on sale include MaRio de Janeiro Testino (Tashen, 2009), and Kate Moss by Mario Testino (Taschen, 2011), as well as limited editions of Visionarie No. 46: Uncensored (Visionaire, 2005), a book edited by Testino highlighting the work of various artists on the theme of sex.  Additionally, the shop is offering four limited-edition prints signed by Testino featuring images of models Kate Moss, Carmen Kass, and Natalia Vodianova, and actress Sienna Miller. 

These exhibitions, his first in the United States, are co-sponsored by Stuart Weitzman and Swarovski.  Additional support for Mario Testino: British Royal Portraits is provided by British Airways.  

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Museum's website: www.mfa.org