On 21 September the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza is presenting for the first time in Spain the work of the Peruvian photographer Mario Testino. The exhibition Todo o Nada brings together 54 photographs that reveal the two opposing concepts to be found in his work, fashion and the nude. These concepts are present both in his better known activities as a fashion photographer, including the images that he has created for Vogue, Vanity Fair, V Magazine, Allure and The Face, as well as in his more personal creations, including a number of unpublished photographs specially taken for this exhibition. All combine analogue photography with the latest digital technology.
For Mario Testino, the essence of the exhibition lies in contemplating the process and implications involved in the act of removing one’s clothes to become naked: “a voyage from haute couture to nudity, including the intermediary process that implies baring the form.” In this sense, the exhibition includes photographs in which the model wears extravagant dresses, enveloped in a setting specifically created for the shot and characterised by a deliberate desire for theatricality, as well as others in which she is seen unclothed, clearly referring to famous images of Spanish art such as Goya’s Majas.
The exhibition also examines the relationship between the photographer and his models, who are always women, from the glamour of top models, either nude or wearing haute couture and on occasions photographed with a touch of irony and a sense of humour, to photographs of friends, actress and celebrities. Todo o Nada is an ode to “Testino’s woman”, an iconic image of woman that he has defined and redefined over the course of his career. A woman who moves at totally opposing poles: “I like strong, independent women. Women who, despite their strength, never lose their femininity and who do not use their beauty as a tool. Women with personality who can reflect their own desires and ours.”
Within the concept of the exhibition, Testino’s intention has been to establish a dialogue with the Museum’s Collection. In his words: “Exhibiting in a museum such as the Thyssen-Bornemisza with its extraordinary collection is a privilege for any artist working today, particularly given that many of the artists and works in the Collection have influenced my own work and inspired me. The Museum is remarkable, not just for the collection that it houses, but also for the space, which enhances the work of any artist.”