Mario Testino Takes Over the MFA

November 15, 2012

Photographer Mario Testino's two new exhibits at the Museum of Fine Arts merit a visit to Huntington Avenue — though both focus on the same man, the exhibits expose different sides of Testino's portfolio. "In Your Face" showcases the fashion photography that has made Testino an industry name. Testino's second exhibit, "British Royal Portraits," unveils a selection of portraits showing the royal family — yes, including Kate Middleton. 

In Your Face

Testino is known for creating vulnerable and unexpected portraits of high-profile stars. "In Your Face" examines Testino's fascination with celebrity by looking at the last 15 years of his career, when the photographer turned his lens on fame. 

Testino is known for his raw photographic style — he creates edgy images and is well known for his nudes. “Nudity has been important in my work in order to push, I guess my skills as a photographer,” Testino explains. “You know when you train as a painter, drawing nudes is one of the first things that you learn. And I find that in my work it’s important because it’s like the bare person. It’s like there are no excuses, no frills. There’s nothing. It’s just how you are. And I’m a great believer that in society we have a certain tendency to think it’s a negative thing. And I find it a pure thing.”

Testino hopes that this exhibition, his first in the US, parallels his life — or at least he wishes it did. "I wanted to parallel my life [in] the exhibition," Testino explained. "I would love my life to be just like these rooms."

That would be a life full of stars like Kate Moss, Gisele Bündchen, Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mick Jagger, Lady Gaga, soccer player David Beckham. "In Your Face" is on view at the MFA until Feb. 3.

British Royal Portraits

It’s when Testino is at his least commercial — when photographing the British Royals — that his work can be most alluring. In this exhibit, images of the royal family, including Prince Charles and the engagement portraits of Prince William and Kate Middleton, demonstrate the humanity that lies beneath the crown.

Perhaps the most famous and most awe-inspiring of these images is a portrait of Diana, Princess of Whales, one of the last to be taken before her death. Testino says that what he sought most when creating this image was familiarity. 

"The biggest treat that I could give people is to make them feel that they were sitting next to her in an intimate moment," Testino explained. 

This will be the first US showing of many of these photographs. The collection will be on display at the MFA until June 16.

WATCH: Jared Bowen's Interview with Photographer Mario Testino

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