Mario Testino: MFA Boston Celebrates the Man Behind the Camera

- By Val Bitici Twerdahl - 

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Two exhibitions of works by London based fashion photographer Mario Testino opened this weekend at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Displaying Testino’s broad scope and his eye for setting up and capturing beautiful shots, In Your Face and British Royal Portraits mark the first time the artist’s photographs have been exhibited in the United States. Each photo in these exhibits was chosen by Testino himself.

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A view of Mario Testino’s “In Your Face”

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Made up of 122 photographs, In Your Face is the larger of the two shows, and with bold works of varying dimensions—the largest of them 8’ x 6’—the exhibit has no trouble living up to its name. When entering the show, viewers are greeted by a bank of 16 television screens broadcasting documentary-like video footage of a passionate photographer at work. Such is the theme of the exhibit which is set up much like an artist’s workspace with pictures either tacked casually to the walls or framed and hung. The show is comprised of two different kinds of subjects: lesser known models whose sole purpose is to display the clothing and makeup they are wearing, and portraits of A-list celebrities such as Sienna Miller, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Lady Gaga in elaborate, couture outfits. Demonstrating Testino’s caliber, the exhibit features many of his cover images for magazines, including a Gisele cover for Vanity Fair and a Kate Moss cover for Vogue. The show even includes a lively photo shot just this summer of football player Tom Brady with a Doberman Pinscher.

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Kate Moss, London 2006

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By contrast, British Royal Portraits is a more intimate exhibition, with just 16 pictures on view. Shot during the past 31 years of Testino’s career, these pictures include the very first picture the London-based artist ever took of British royalty—a candid, smiley snapshot of the Queen Mother seated in a carriage with her grandson, Prince Edward. Even Testino’s most formal royal portraits, such as the famous engagement photos of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, display a warm, personal stateliness rather than a standoffish grandeur. These pictures not only commemorate Testino’s prestigious role as a royal family portrait photographer but also the personal way in which he captures his majestic subjects.

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Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, Los Angeles 2003 

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From his artful fashion photographs and honest candids, to the intimate portraits of the British royal family, the works currently on view at MFA Boston display Testino’s role in the history of portraiture and fashion photography.

Mario Testino: In Your Face is on view now through February 3, 2013. Mario Testino: British Royal Portraits is on view now through June 16, 2013.

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Stella Tennant for American Vogue, 2006

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Val Bitici Twerdahl is a writer, born and raised in manhattan. Since 2008, she has worked as part of Vanity Fair’s editorial team, sometimes contributing to vf.com. Val spends her free time blogging (miscv.tumblr.com), traveling, trying new restaurants, cooking, skiing, and dreaming about one day becoming an art collector.
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