A few Saturdays ago, the hubster and I found ourselves with a rare Saturday off together.
In order to take full advantage of this momentous occasion, we decided to schedule not one, but two activities for the beautiful fall afternoon.
Our first stop was to see Mario Testino: In Your Face at the MFA. While this activity was
most certainly my selection of the two (we went to see the new James Bond film per my
husband’s request after we left the MFA), my husband happily went along for the ride as he loves good photography and he knew enough about Mario Testino to know that photos of models awaited him.
We were both impressed by the exhibit and doubled back through the gallery numerous times to take a look at our favorite photos. First and foremost, we loved the way in which the exhibit was displayed. Photos were blown up to make their subjects larger than life and to live up to the exhibit’s name – “In Your Face.” All photos rested on a ledge that ran around the perimeter of the gallery and were either simply framed or, in some cases, the photos were tacked directly to the wall as though they were still in the photographer’s studio. According to the introductory blurb on the gallery wall, Testino himself was integral to the installation of the exhibit – not only selecting the photos, but suggesting and assisting in this unique installation.
In regards to the photos themselves, I was struck by his incredible ability to create a
unique and pleasing composition from what was often a flurry of activity, scale and color
and to successfully capture that perfect moment when the chaos reached an organized crescendo. Yes, some photos were a simple portrait of a model, actress or singer in a dashing suit or couture gown, but many more were from editorial fashion spreads that featured his subjects walking a pack of dobermans, hiking in Patagonia in the latest and greatest fashions, dancing at a party, getting in or out of a car or modeling in groups of 6 or more.
However, what I thought the exhibit lacked – and perhaps this was done purposefully in order to maintain the focus on Testino – was the inclusion of the stylist that worked on each photo. Most of his subjects and models gained recognition as photos were named after them in most cases, but nary a stylist was mentioned.
Because of what I do, I was dying to know who put those models, actors and actresses in
the amazing outfits that they wore. After all, the highly stylized and well-chosen ensembles
were one of the main, if not the main focal point of most of his photos. It seemed like one
third of the photographer-model-stylist puzzle was missing.
Despite this ommission, the exhibit is most certainly worth a visit, expecially for someone
who wouldn’t normally step foot in an art museum. It is colorful, modern and brimming with pop culture, making it easily accessible to everyone in a way that the usual tenants of an art museum often aren’t. And, the gallery is of modest size – part of the MFA’s new underground addition – allowing the visitor to make a quick stop on an evening after work or to make use of a free sliver of time on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
Mario Testino: In Your Face runs through February 3rd, 2013 in the Gund Gallery at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Enjoy!