Peruvian photographer Mario Testino is best known for his portraits of famous faces such as Kate Moss and Princess Diana, but for the past 30 years he has also been a collector of art as well as a creator. More than 400 pieces from his diverse personal collection are now going on sale at Sotheby’s in a three-part auction called Shake It Up, featuring work by names who have helped inform Testino’s own artistic vocabulary, with all proceeds going to help the not-for-profit Museo MATE in Lima.
“People always say you have to buy what you like, but I’m not so sure of that,” says Testino. “I think you almost have to buy what attracts you and at the same time confuses you. You need to shake it up!” Chief among those confusers is Richard Prince, whose striking sepia-washed print Untitled (Girlfriend) from 1993 portrays a scantily clad woman posing with a motorbike, and is expected to sell for £250,000-£350,000. Some of the same motifs appear in Prince’s Untitled (£200,000-£300,000) from 2012, which straddles the line between painting and photography.
“Prince is somebody who has influenced me a lot in the way I think,” says Testino. “The idea of appropriation for me was a very new thing, because I’ve always been quite respectful about other people’s property, but what I’ve realised is that he made us look at things that we weren’t looking at properly and challenged us to look at those things differently.”
The eclectic auctions – international contemporary art (September 13 and 14; previews from September 8) and an online sale of photographs (until September 15) – feature work by artists from 45 different countries, including big names such as Wolfgang Tillmans, Gilbert & George, Georg Baselitz, Chris Ofili, Sterling Ruby and Cindy Sherman, as well as some emerging talents. Testino’s interest in portraiture comes through strongly, notably in Elizabeth Peyton’s Pink (Spencer) (Three) (£15,000-£20,000), a brightly coloured, highly stylised monotype of a young man on handmade paper, while Green Grey Symmetrical Michael Jackson (£60,000-£80,000) by Paul McCarthy mounts the King of Pop (and Bubbles the monkey) on Plexiglass in a work that verges on optical illusion.
Combining grime and glamour, Soiled (£8,000-£12,000) by Marilyn Minter in the online auction depicts a pair of rather grubby feet adorned with green nail polish, and nails also make an appearance in Yael Davids’ Thread (£1,000-£1,500), a moody monochrome showing two hands bound together by cotton threaded through small holes in the fingernails. Vibeke Tandberg’s Beautiful #15 (£2,000-£3,000), meanwhile, pops out by pitching a mass of windswept blonde hair against a black background.
“This is a collection driven by passion, intellectual and visual curiosity, and a desire to support a new generation of artists,” says Oliver Barker, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe. “Assembled with a uniquely discerning eye, it should be admired first and foremost for the extraordinary quality of its constituent works, yet it is the overwhelming sense of personality that gives it such a distinct character.”