Undressed, exhibition by Mario Testino, at the Helmut Newton Foundation


Blurring the boundaries between fashion, eroticism and art, "Undressed" subverts conventions and explores different modes of undressing. Displaying at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin 2017, and conceived exclusively for the Foundation, "Undressed" delves deep into Testino’s archive, offering a metaphorical undressing of the man as well as his working practice. 54 larger-than-life images are affixed directly to the walls in three of the Foundation’s exhibition halls, reaching into the corners of the room and up to the ceiling, filling the rooms with bodies and emotions to create an imposing human landscape.

The Exhibition

A special highlight is the series of previously unseen photographs shot in Testino’s studio. In this deeply personal work, an exuberant atmosphere intermingles with the implicit frisson of nudity, and while playfully amorous, the dynamics never slip into the obscene or pornographic. Honouring the influence of Helmut Newton, the images become abstracted body landscapes, the protagonists appearing as mere forms, torsos, even statues.

Testino has elevated fashion photography into the realm of art. Consistent with his wider practice, the origins of his work lie in Old Master paintings, as much as the history of photography. Many of the images may be seen to redefine masculine paradigms, in the same way that Newton created his own brand of female beauty.

Alongside the exhibition, the Foundation’s cinema room showed a unique short film, Undressing The Mind. This shows Testino in conversation with psychoanalyst Kai Hammermeister. In their exchange, Testino and Hammermeister analyse the root of Testino’s fascination with the human form, and Testino opens up about love and intimacy. The film is interspersed with images from Testino’s body of work, and gives the viewer a unique insight into his mind.

"Undressed" is supported by a catalogue, published by Taschen, documenting the exhibition and features an exclusive conversation between Testino and long-time collaborator Carine Roitfeld. Also included is an essay from psychiatrist and psychologist Manfred Spitzer, who offers a neuroscientific perspective on humanity’s visual perception of bodies and beauty.

Selected Work From The Exhibition

Paris, Vogue Italia, 2000

Clement Mogensen, Copenhagen, 2016

Marisa Miller, Paris, Vogue Italia, 2000

Paris, Vogue Hommes International, 1999

Los Angeles, 1999

Los Angeles, 1999

Los Angeles, 2005

Testino closed Undressed with a unique street art intervention where he invited three street artists—Mimi Scholz, Hera of Herakut and Sandra Chevrier—to ‘vandalise’ all 54 images in the exhibition, for a one day viewing before closure. In fitting with the transient nature of street art, the works were destroyed after the exhibition closed.

"Undressed", Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin, June 2, 2017 - November 19, 2017



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