Mario Testino is one of the most recognized photographers in the world, known for his work in the fashion industry and his intimate portraits of the British Royal Family. Even though he has released several books and been the subject of London's National Portrait Gallery's most successful exhibition to date, he is only just now getting his first US exhibition in an unexpected place: the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Split into two exhibitions, "In Your Face" consists of 122 photographs chosen specifically to showcase the "boldness" in Testino's work, while "British Royal Portraits" features 16 of Testino's favorite images of the Royal Family taken over the years. "In Your Face" is unique in that the photos are not organized in any particular manner - candids in one section, portraits in another, for example - but rather they are all mixed together to give the viewer a sense of Testino's jet-set career. It's a striking way to organize an exhibition of this kind and makes each image stand out individually.
Testino had a hand in every part of the presentation, from the selection of the photos to the scale and framing of each print. He chose deeply saturated colors for the walls and each print received its own particularly colored frame. Curiously, there were a handful of prints that weren't framed at all, but rather held to the wall with pushpins. "Well, I just thought that those are the nudes, and a nude picture [needs] a nude presentation," he said with a wink and a laugh when asked about that decision. He even curated the gift shop with books about the photographers who inspired him and the music that he loves.
One outsider who had serious input in the exhibition was, of course, Anna Wintour. Testino gave her a preview of the exhibition so that she could write the foreword to the accompanying book. Upon inspection, Wintour recommended that he remove some of the images, which he now admits was the right call. "I totally listen to her and follow her," explains Testino, who shared that he has been working with Wintour for so long that he shot her son's first passport shot when he was an infant in his mother's lap.
"She's the most loyal person there is," Testino said.
With so many stunning photos featuring famous faces ranging from Gisele Bundchen and husband Tom Brady to Lady Gaga, we had to ask Testino about the subjects of his shoots.
Prominent in the exhibition are two of Testino's muses, Kate Moss and Gisele Bundchen. Not only are they both stunningly gorgeous--Testino even went so far as to say that Gisele "has no flaws"--but the photographer praised both for their personalities and their work ethic. "I think that you can't do it any other way," he said of working with models who have strong personalities, "because then the pictures are nothing. You see, the pictures have to have content, it's not just a plastic outside, it's also the inside. So you try to get the two together as much as possible."
Kate and Gisele obviously aren't the only models in the exhibition--Natalia Vodianova and Karlie Kloss, both of whom Testino cited as "top models" who inspire him, were also heavily featured. One up and coming model that impresses Testino is recent fashion fascination Cara Delevingne. "She's fabulous, no? She's great, I work with her on all the Burberry ads," he said of Delevingne. "She's such fun. She is like the new Kate in a way, if you think of her personality and energy and attitude."
Inevitably, there are also shots of celebrities, both candid and staged. Testino has well-documented relationships with women like Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna, both featured in the exhibition. In terms of starlets he enjoys working with, he told us he likes a lot of the new generation. "Kirsten Dunst, for instance," he said, "I think she's fabulous. She's got such a nice energy, she's so modern with her attitude and how she represents herself." He also says he loves Emma Stone, who he just shot. "She's clever - I like intelligence. I really appreciate it when an actress arrives to a studio on her own, when she's in control of the situation rather than her publicist."
Both exhibitions open to the public at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston on October 21, with "In Your Face" ending February 3, 2013 and "British Royal Portraits" closing June 16, 2013.
Click through to see some of the photos on display and the guests at the gala!