I recently visited the exhibition “Somos Libres II”, at Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Turin, a selection of works from the personal collection of Mario Testino, curated by Neville Wakefield. It is always fascinating to discover private collections and “Somos Libres II” features works including artists such as: Adriana Varejão, Andy Warhol, Tauba Auerbach, Richard Avedon, Ugo Rondinone and Cindy Sherman.
While the images that Mario Testino creates with the camera are known to the world, the art that he collects has remained largely private. “Somos Libres II” was presented for the first time in 2013 at MATE, Mario Testino’s cultural institution in Lima, Peru, exploring his interest in the works of established artists such as Richard Prince and Paul McCarthy alongside works by lesser-known and emerging artists from his native Peru.
Within the space of the Pinacoteca, Testino’s own images are presented like the pages of a three-dimensional magazine. Vintage and classic photographs from Testino’s collection hang against the backdrop of his own photography. Here the currency of photography and its continual flux of likeness is surrounded and enclosed by work in the traditional mediums, that are at once more static in their trading of meaning.
The most impressive room is probably the final one: hung salon style, the paintings from the Mario Testino collection suggest a different form of contiguity. What they reveal is his personal taste in contemporary art, guided by art dealers like Sadie Coles. The cabinet is the essence of a collection at the interstices of Testino’s world, a place where excess, freedom and liberation from external constraints merge.