On the eve of Mario Testino’s forthcoming exhibition “Alta Moda” at Dallas Contemporary, MATE, the Lima, Peru museum that bears the Vogue photographer’s name, is exhibiting the first of what is to become an annual series entitled “Los Maestros de la Fotografía.” The first maestro? George Hurrell, who is arguably responsible—more than anyone else—for our collective understanding of early Hollywood glamour. Given that Testino is, of course, an inheritor of Hurrell’s legacy, it’s not surprising that he credits the go-to lensman of first MGM and later Warner Bros. as an overwhelming influence not only on his own work, but on that of his colleagues, too. “I find it hard to believe any photographer trying to capture the essence of ‘a star’ has not, in some way or another, been influenced by Hurrell,” Testino writes in the catalog of the exhibition, which was a coordinated effort between Testino and curators Duncan Campbell and Charlotte Rey.
Here, in an exclusive excerpt from that same essay, Testino further explains Hurrell’s enduring influence:
“Around the middle of the 1980s I started going to Los Angeles to work with American publications, mainly, at that time, GQ magazine. In this new location my curiosity urged me to discover the photographers who had defined the glamour of Hollywood’s silver screen era. Only one stood out to me: George Hurrell. It became clear to me very quickly that he was the most important image-maker of that era in Hollywood. He seemed to have an uncanny ability to turn everything and everyone into the height of glamour. No one looked more famous, more magical, more powerful than in his photographs.”
“George Hurrell: Legends in Light,” curated by Campbell-Rey in collaboration with Mario Testino, is on view at MATE: Museo Mario Testino in Lima, Peru, until December 6, 2014
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