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Fashion as Fine Art

You cannot help but respond to Testino’s images, and when walking through In Your Face, you feel as though you are walking through Testino’s fantasy world, where everything sparkles and provokes.



Legendary fashion and celebrity photographer, Mario Testino, blends fashion and fine art through his current exhibit, In Your Face, now on display at the Museum of Fine Art’s Gund Gallery.

Testino, best known for his photography of models and celebrities such as Kate Moss, Princess Diana, Gisele Bundchen and Lady Gaga, has contributed to magazines, including Vogue and Vanity Fair for years. He has become renowned for his photography style and images.

The exhibit, described as a “lively merger of museum and popular culture” by the MFA, juxtaposes black and white images with color, candids with photo shoots and nudes with fashion.

Immediately beyond the entrance to the Gund Gallery, there is a giant screen showing split images of Testino at various award shows, in the news and of prominent figures in the fashion world reflecting on working with him. Crossing through the double glass doors into the space where the photography is housed feels like walking through a giant glossy magazine – exactly how Testino hoped the gallery would feel.

Testino was very involved with the production of In Your Face. He said, “The way I work is intuitive, from composing and cropping an image-down to the size of the print and the color and style of the frame. I make certain prints very large to fill the viewer’s vision the way a photograph can fill an entire page.”

His placement of color next to black and white makes both types of images pop, and the different styles of images he used displayed the beautiful colors and contrasts within the various pictures. All photographs in the exhibit were digitally produced chromogenic C type prints or fiber based silver gelatin prints which served to make them subtly glow.

The photographs included recognizable images such as Lady Gaga’s March 2011 cover of Vogue and Madonna’s 1998 album cover of Ray of Light, candid shots of Kate Moss and Stephanie Seymour backstage at a Paris fashion show in 1999 and unexpected images of English singer-songwriter, Robbie Williams, wearing a sparkled British flag bikini top in London in 2000.

Testino tends to photograph unexpected images of men doing feminine things, such as putting on a dress, red lipstick or a pair of strappy heels. He also enjoys photographing celebrities doing things that would be seen out of character for them, such as Jennifer Lopez dressed in men’s boxing gear and swinging.

“I want to surprise,” said Testino. “I push boundaries to provoke, to break down perfection, to find the unique moment. That’s what makes the photograph work for me.”

Testino pushed Gisele Bundchen’s career towards stardom, saw something in Kate Moss that others couldn’t see yet and revived Gucci as a fashion house with his provocative ad campaigns. He also earned the trust of many celebrities, including the British Royals (his smaller exhibit, The British Royals, is on display upstairs).

You cannot help but respond to Testino’s images, and when walking through In Your Face, you feel as though you are walking through Testino’s fantasy world, where everything sparkles and provokes. His style is perfection, the lighting is unparalled and the photographs are art.

In Your Face will remain on display at the MFA now through Feb. 3, 2013. The British Royal Portraits can be seen now through June 16, 2013.