“Unfiltered” by Mario Testino: an exhibition not to be missed


The Milanese gallery 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS exhibits photographs by Mario Testino. This exhibition will first show his iconic images and later, Testino’s never-before-seen personal work. I spoke to Luca Casulli, co-founder of 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS gallery, to find out what makes Unfiltered so special to the public, collectors and even the gallery.

Mario Testino is one of the biggest names in fashion photography. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential fashion and portrait photographers. Having captured images for Burberry, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Vogue, Versace and many more, Testino is no stranger to producing world-class artwork. His photographs have been exhibited around the world: Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin (Undressed, 2017), the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (In Your Face, 2012), the Shanghai Art Museum (Private View, 2012) and the National Portrait Gallery in London (Portraits, 2002).

A love affair with Italy

Mario has worked in Italy for many years and knows Milan very well. It was essential for his career and his personal life. Mario also has a personal connection to the country, as his grandparents were from Liguria.

The idea for the exhibition came last year during the pandemic, Mario was introduced to 29 CURRENT ARTS thanks to one of the biggest collectors in the world, Nicola Erni. At that time, Mario CIAO’s book was about to be published. Ciao (Taschen 2020) celebrates Mario’s love affair with Italy and features prominent photography for magazines such as Vogue. This book sparked the organization of something bigger: the “Unfiltered” exhibition by Mario Testino.

Personal side of Testino

According to Luca, the most interesting images on display are the black and white paparazzi-style snaps from the 90s. These were taken at parties or other events that one might not expect to see. be photographed. One of those images is that of Gianni and Donatella Versace in 1997, where Gianni is screaming. Rather than images related to Vogue Italy, this exhibition features images made in Italy. A good example would be the first lesbian kiss ever published in a magazine. Another link with Italy would be for Vogue Paris by Stephano Corsi, who is widely appreciated for his acting.

Why is Testino’s work magical?

The magic of Testino’s work is that it looks so contemporary. Even if you look at his work in the 90s, you could probably tell it was done yesterday. The secret lies in Mario’s ability to establish a personal connection with his subjects. When Luca and Mario met in London a few weeks ago, Mario told him about his stay with Diana, Princess of Wales. At the time of the photoshoot, she wasn’t close to the Royal Family, so Mario decided to pull the extravagance away and captured Diana in a much more candid situation. He captured the real person, not a public figure.

Asked about the technical details, Luca explained that collectors don’t consider them as carefully as you might think, as the feel of the image is much more meaningful. The series exhibited for the first time in 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS tells about a spontaneous nature of Testino, one that is much more personal. Mario always carries his camera with him. When Gian Paolo Barbieri met Mario Tesino a few weeks ago, he was taking pictures all the time. This side of Testino is presented in part II of the exhibition.

Curiosity and open-mindedness help Mario capture moments that aren’t always aesthetically perfect for a magazine but perfect for him.

According to Mario, the person made the shoot successful. Of course, sometimes the customer can restrict the possibilities, but Mario always pushes those limits. These “pushes” are also displayed in the gallery.

What makes unfiltered so special?

The significance of this exhibition goes far beyond the fact that it is the very first exhibition of Testino’s personal side. It also has historical value because the industry has changed. What Mario has achieved will not be achieved by anyone else because of the evolution of the industry.

All in all, the Mario Tesino Unfiltered exhibition at gallery 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS is a one-of-a-kind experience that will encompass both the large-format work of Testino, known around the world, as well as a much more intimate and invisible from Testino. Beyond being invaluable for collectors and art geeks, it’s also a great opportunity for photographers to view works of a master.

Unfiltered Part I: October 1 – November 27

Unfiltered Part II: December 2, 2021 – February 28, 2022.

Main image: © Mario Testino – Sienna Miller, Rome, American Vogue, 2007 – Courtesy 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS gallery

About Julius Southworth

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