A girl with a red camera hanging on her shoulder reaches out her hand, as if she was placing Lady Di's framed photograph on the wall, then she looks at the same photo of the late princess in her booklet. "Stars and royalty almost never laugh like that, I wonder what the photographer told her to make her laugh so spontaneously," noted the design student, who was on a school trip to the Today Art Museum. In the picture, Diana Spencer or the People's Princess, as she was often called, laughs unabashedly, immortalized in happiness. There are over 80 iconic images of modern celebrities and royalty lining the walls of the Today Art Museum in Beijing, in homage to fashion, royalty and photo journalism. Mario Testino: Private View represents famed photographer Mario Testino's first exhibition in China. The display celebrates a 30-year career with a recently assembled series of photos from his private collection, at the Today Art Museum until June 27.
Well-known for his glamorous, risqué and timeless shots of celebrities and cultural icons, visitors can recognize many of the portraits from a myriad of fashion magazine covers such as Vogue and Vanity Fair. Testino's muses Kate Moss and Gisele Bündchen, award-winning actors and actresses like Nicole Kidman and Brad Pitt, singers and fashion designers were all captured by the Peruvian-born photographer.
"I've never 'been' with so many famous people in one room," a foreign male visitor said, describing the photos as "bold and beautiful." The exhibition is organized in a manner that guides the viewer through different sections: Larger than Life shows iconic pictures of the world's most celebrated people; Portraits of the British Royal Family is a series of Testino's instantly recognizable royal portraits; while In my Own Fashion shows his fashion works.
"Beijing is an incredible place, full of surprises, you get a real sense of discovery," said Testino at the press conference for the exhibition in Beijing. "I wanted to show my work in China, somewhere I have never exhibited before," he added. "It was like understanding a puzzle: seeing how the fashion works influenced the celebrity portrait works, which in turn influenced the royal works and so on. I felt the only way of making the exhibition was to show all these different sides of my life together, creating a private view of the world I have been documenting."
Testino famously photographed Princess Diana weeks before she died and put Margaret Thatcher on the cover of Vogue. Without Chinese celebrities in his portfolio as yet, and although the authorities are rumored to have vetted some of the photos, Testino's close relationship with the fashion world seems to be paving the way for an entry into China, and he plans to take the show to other Asian countries.
Where: Today Art Museum
When: 10 am to 5 pm (last entry at 4 pm), until June 27
Tickets: 10 and 20 yuan, free entry for children under six
For more information, visit www.todayartmuseum.com