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The release coincides with a new exhibition at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin. The photographs in both the book and exhibition capture models in various stages of undress and compositions vary between candid and styled, sexualised and vulnerable, demonstrating the full range of Testino’s un-imitable eye. In an interesting nuance, the title ‘Undressed’ also seeks to present Testino in new lights, with previously unpublished photographs from Testino’s studio on show for the first time.
In usual Testino fashion, the photographs offer an array of well known names such as Kate Moss and Amber Valletta, alongside beautiful portraits of unknown men and women, sometimes alone, sometimes in groups. The effect is to weave a textured depiction of private scenes, marrying the emotional, physical and aesthetic in 50 visceral images. In the book, introductions and commentary from Carine Roitfeld, Manfred Spitzer and Matthias Harder also help to shed light.
The exhibition and book follows on from Testino’s recent release of SIR, also published by Taschen. In a magnificent and mighty series, masculinity was playfully explored – traditional tropes overturned and exaggerated, and new identities introduced. Both books also follow on from Mario Testino’s towel series, in which the Peruvian photographer captures famous individuals in towels and robes. Here too, the tension between private and public is wonderfully explored.
That Mario Testino is being showcased at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin is fitting: Newton was famous for his nude portraits of women, and his abstract renderings of the body which saw skin and limbs spotlighted in isolation. Both approached the body as a point of fascination, while also enjoying phenomenally successful careers as fashion photographers.