The name Mario Testino means images of Kate Moss covered in bright paint; divine pictures of Princess Diana and just about any other face from the world of fashion, Hollywood and glamour.
While Testino is known the world over for his photography, his complete immersion in the broader art world, as a collector and a philanthropist, is a story as yet untold. Until now.
Over 300 works, which form part of his personal collection, will be coming to Sotheby's London galleries for an incredible schedule of auctions. Formed over around 30 years, Testino's collection brings together many of the artists Testino most admires, and whose visual language has helped to inform his world and vision. Directed and designed by Testino himself, the imaginatively installed exhibition showcases the artists adored by one of the greatest photographers of our time.
Born in Lima in 1954, Testino's Peruvian heritage is a rich part of his life. In 2012, Testino established the non-profit Museo MATE in Lima to promote and support the arts in Peru. Now focused on taking the work of MATE to the next level, proceeds from the auctions at Sotheby's will go toward the expansion of the museum's programme of exhibitions, residencies and education initiatives.
''Richard Prince is somebody who has influenced me a lot in the way that I think”, Testino says. “The idea of appropriation for me was a very new thing, because I’ve always been quite respectful about other people’s property, but what I’ve realised is that he made us look at things that we weren’t looking at properly and challenging us to look at things differently.'' - Mario Testino
Artists of a remarkable 45 different nationalities are represented across the auction, ranging from renowned international artists including Richard Prince, Georg Baselitz, Wolfgang Tillmans, Rudolf Stingel, Sterling Ruby, Gilbert & George and Cindy Sherman, to emerging names from every corner of the world.
From 8th to 13th September, Testino will take over Sotheby's London galleries, curating an immersive exhibition to be staged alongside a series of talks by friends and collaborators from the worlds of art, fashion and photography. Two auctions of international contemporary art will be held on 13th and 14th September, which will be followed by an online only sale of photographs collected by Testino.
''Thomas Ruff really opened my eyes because, in photography, we were so driven by perfection; making it look good, properly lit and exposed and properly composed, and he is deconstructing images to their most basic pixels. I am constantly being challenged to look differently at the things I’ve been taught, when actually if you do completely the opposite, you might be better off.'' - Mario Testino
Cecily Brown, Paul McCarthy, Urs Fischer, Vik Muniz and Albert Oehlen are all artists with whom Testino has directly collaborated and whose works also features in the auction.
Not only does the collection trace Testino's creative journey, but also where his passion for photography has taken him around the globe. From arriving in London as an unknown 22 year-old, to travelling the world as the most sought-after photographer of his generation: Testino has always immersed himself in the local art scene, engaging with galleries and artists, and acquiring the works that speak to him regardless of their fame and stature.
Testino started collecting photography with a a portrait of Vivien Leigh by the surrealist photographer Angus McBean. His initial focus was on early and mid-20th century photography before he movied beyond his own chosen medium, his passion for contemporary art was sparked through his close-friendship with the London-based gallerist Sadie Coles. Through Coles, he was introduced to fine artists who were using photography in new ways; artists like Richard Prince who appropriated and transformed images from advertisements and glossy magazines. ''It was a great learning curve for me,'' Testino says, ''exploring how photography can be used in so many different ways.''
As well as these modern and contemporary heavyweights, as a passionate and proud Peruvian, Testino's collection features works by some of the most important Latin American contemporary artists. Brazilian artists Adriana Verajão and Vik Muniz, Colombian born Oscar Murillo and Peruvian artists including William Cordova and Miguel Aguirre are all part of the auctions at Sotheby's.
''This is a collection driven by passion, intellectual and visual curiosity, and a desire to support a new generation of artists,'' explains Sotheby's European Chairman, Oliver Barker. ''Assembled with a uniquely discerning eye, the collection should be admired first and foremost for the extraordinary quality of its constituent works, yet it is the overwhelming sense of personality that gives it such a distinct character.''