Mario Testino's 'SIR' Is an Exploration of Modern Masculinity

Mario Testino's 'SIR' Is an Exploration of Modern Masculinity

Recently rereleased in a special edition format, the book shows the photographer at his most subversive and iconoclastic.

Recently rereleased in a special edition format, the book shows the photographer at his most subversive and iconoclastic.

Photography: Mario Testino

Text: Thomas Freeman

In an excerpt from his photo book SIR, Mario Testino discusses how the two Davids—Bowie and Beckham—have upended traditional ideas of masculinity: “The way Bowie proposed these amazing new ideas of what a man could be without ever losing the impact of his masculinity made a great impression on me…. And in another way I think David Beckham’s attitude to his own looks and body, his fearlessness of wearing interesting clothes and his tattoos, have had an enormous effect on the way men in general feel about how they dress and who they can be.”

That iconoclastic ethos is evident in the upwards of 300 images Testino selected for SIR, which explores how the star photographer has captured—and toyed with—male beauty and artifice throughout his three-decade career. A pastiche of six-packs and high heels, SIR couples his celebrity portraits—of icons of masculinity like Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Beckham and Bowie—with his most striking and gender-bending editorial work. For instance, his 2005 VMAN shoot with actor Josh Hartnett, for which the matinee idol applied lipstick and flashed kissy faces, reveals the ability of Testino to prod masculine tropes, subvert and even outright obliterate them through his lens.

Browse highlights from the door-stopping photo book below. SIR is available now through TASCHEN—a standard edition for $69.99 and a cloth-bound limited edition signed by Testino for $1,000.

James & Matt Kohler, Los Angeles, VMAN, 2008.

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