Mario Testino's 'Unfiltered': An Exhibition You Can’t Miss

Mario Testino's 'Unfiltered': An Exhibition You Can’t Miss

Milan-based gallery 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS is exhibiting photographs by Mario Testino. This exhibition will first show his iconic images and later, never-seen-before personal work of Testino. I spoke to Luca Casulli, the 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 worldwide: 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). 

© Mario Testino - Sienna Miller, Rome, American Vogue, 2007 - Courtesy of 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS gallery

A Love Affair With Italy

Mario has been working in Italy for many years and is very familiar with Milan. It was critical for his career and personal life. Mario also has a personal bond with the country, for his grandparents were from Liguria.

Installation View - Mario Testino Unfilterered - Copyright_Courtesy of 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS gallery

The idea for the exhibition came last year during the pandemic, Mario was introduced to 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS thanks to one of the greatest collectors in the world, Nicola Erni. Around that time, Mario’s book CIAO was about to be published. Ciao (Taschen 2020) celebrates Mario’s love affair with Italy and features prominent photographs for such magazines as Vogue. This book gave a spark to organizing something greater: Mario Testino's “Unfiltered” exhibition.

Personal Side of Testino

According to Luca, the most interesting images on display are the paparazzi-style 90s black and white shots. Those were taken at parties or other events where one perhaps wouldn’t expect to be photographed. One such image is of Gianni and Donatella Versace in 1997, where Gianni is screaming. Rather than pictures related to Vogue Italy, this exhibition features images done in Italy. A great example would be the first lesbian kiss to ever be published in a magazine. Another link to Italy would be for Vogue Paris of Stephano Corsi, who is widely loved for his acting. 

Why Is Testino’s Work Magical?

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

© Mario Testino - Mario Testino, Capri, Dolce & Gabbana, 2006 - Courtesy of 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS gallery

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

The curiosity and open-mindedness help Mario catch moments that are not always aesthetically perfect for a magazine but perfect for him.

According to Mario, the person makes the shoot successful. Of course, sometimes, the client can restrict the possibilities, but Mario always pushes beyond these boundaries. These “pushes” are displayed in the gallery as well. 

What Makes Unfiltered so Special? 

Installation View - Mario Testino Unfilterered - Copyright_Courtesy of 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS gallery

The importance of this exhibition extends far beyond it being the first-ever display of Testino's personal side. It also has historical value because the industry has changed. What Mario achieved will not be achieved by anyone else because of how much the industry changed.  

Overall, the Mario Tesino Unfiltered Exhibition at 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS Gallery is a one-of-a-kind experience that will encompass both Testino’s large format work, which is known worldwide, as well as a much more intimate and unseen side of Testino. Beyond being valuable for collectors and art geeks, it is also a great chance for photographers to see works by a master. 

Unfiltered Part I: 1st of October – 27th of November

Unfiltered Part II: 2nd of December 2021 – 28th of February 2022.

Lead Image: © Mario Testino - Sienna Miller, Rome, American Vogue, 2007 - Courtesy of 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS Gallery 

Illya Ovchar's picture

Illya Ovchar is a fashion photographer based in Europe. In his work, Illya aims to tell stories with clothes and light. Illya's work can be seen in magazines such as Vogue, Marie Claire, and InStyle.

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Promoting a predator. How disappointing, Fstoppers.

I think it's about his work.

Thanks, Illya. I am tempted to visit the exposition. I takes me only about 3.30 hours to get there by train. I read about the accusations, but still the photos are great. So I am a bit divided. Which part is preferable if any? I doubt I'll make it twice there.

I'd suggest going to part II. I will visit it at some point as well ;)

IIlya, you have me a little confused, perhaps you can clarify.
On October 4th, you wrote an article here on Fstoppers titled-Are good photos by horrible people worthy of your attention. That article garnered attention from others, myself included, who wondered and asked you directly in the comments to clarity your position of insinuating bad behavior by several well know photographers.

Today, you published this promotional piece of another well know photographer, who could have seamlessly fit into your earlier article. Yet, there is no mention here of the many accusations of inappropriate behavior leveled at Mario Testino, whether true or false.

So, my questions for you as the writer of both articles. Does Mario fit in the context of the first article? Was there any reason to leave out the accusations against him? Are you ever going to address your readers regarding the questions asked of you in the first article.

You are promoting one photographer here, and yet had us questioning other photographers in the other. I believe Mario Testino would have made a better springboard for your earlier article resulting in a more rounded discussion, wouldn’t you agree?

I just feel as a writer, you should remain steadfast in your position of thought, and the articles you publish.

Fair point!

No, just no

Illya. The last four exchanges between us have been removed by someone. This includes your initial reply to my comment below. What is going on here at Fstoppers. I have been respectful with you the entire dialogue.

Am I being censored here at Fstoppers? I would like to know. I have written Fstoppers seeking an answer.

Was my inquiry into your article difficult to answer? Someone is systematically removing discussion between readers and authors and I would like an answer to the removal please so others who come to this site will understand they may have their respectful comments removed without courtesy reasons why.