Until 3rd February 2013 you can go to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA, to have the winter blues blasted away in no uncertain terms by the uncompromising, super-heated photographs of Mario Testino. The exhibition is subtitled “In Your Face” and that is an exact description of the way that Testino presents his glamorous celebrities. Take, for example, Tom Brady (above) barking along with his apparently lovely and well-trained dog. This is not the usual portrait of a well-loved personality, but nevertheless presents the footballer as powerful and yet tongue-in-cheek. Man takes no flack from dog (and they both have beautiful white teeth).
Testino likes to present his sitters as edgey and none of them looks shy. They are often only partly clad and usually adopt empowered poses. None of the women stars are coy and stare back at you directly and unashamedly. The images owe much to fashion photography, the discipline in which Testino made his name with shoots for Gucci, Vogue and Vanity Fair. The lighting is often full-on and unsubtle, creating bright colours, that give the impression that everyone he shoots is on a night out. Most of the images are witty and irreverent not taking themselves too seriously.
The image above of Madonna is quite subdued compared to some of the more brash photos of people like Jennifer Lopez and Kate Moss. Moss is one of Testino’s favourites and he has been photographing her since she was 14 and just starting out in the fashion industry. There are anecdotes of Testino comforting Moss when she cried.
The MFA is also hosting a second Testino show; British Royal Portraits. When I saw this I was amazed at the size of the false smiles of the Duchess of Cornwall. But some of the more natural photos are more charming. Prince William’s late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, helped promote Testino’s career as she favoured him as her photographer thus starting a new kind of royal semi-fashion portrait and moving them fully into the world of celebrity styling that we recognise today.
Top: Tom Brady New York 2012 © Mario Testino. From the exhibition In Your Face by Mario Testino at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. *For further information please visit www.mariotestino.com and www.mfa.org.
Middle: Ray of Light, Madonna Miami 1997 © Mario Testino. From the exhibition In Your Face by Mario Testino at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. *For further information please visit www.mariotestino.com and www.mfa.org.
Bottom: HRH Prince William London 2003 © Mario Testino. From the exhibition British Royal Portraits by Mario Testino at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston*For further information please visit www.mariotestino.com and www.mfa.org
All images courtesy of the MFA Press Library