nelle collezioni del Museo di Fotografia Contemporanea

Abstract Photography from the Avant-garde to the Digital Age

Curated by Roberta Valtorta and Arianna Bianchi

The exhibition includes photographs by Olivo Barbieri, Pierre Cordier, Franco Fontana, Jean-Louis Garnell, Mario Giacomelli, Paolo Gioli, Franco Grignani, Roberto Masotti, Nino Migliori, Paolo Monti, Aaron Siskind, Luigi Veronesi and Silvio Wolf, dating from the 1930s to the first years of the new millennium, investigating how photography, the most ‘realistic’ of the arts, can deal with abstract forms. It was in the context of the collapse of the concept of ‘representation’ among the historical avant-garde, especially abstractionism and Constructivism, that photography began experimenting with abstract forms, finding expressive solutions that no longer use visible reality as a reference, but the ‘other’ realities of interiority and the imaginary. Later, in the ‘40s and ‘50s, Abstract Expressionism and other forms of abstraction provided fertile ground for further experimentation, as would Pop Art and Op Art in the following decade. Some artists used techniques outside the canon such as the photogram, the chemogram, cliche-verre, blurring and, more recently, digital manipulation. Others chose traditional photography to capture aspects of reality that already offer themselves to the eye as abstract forms, removed from their context.

Centro Internazionale Scavi Scaligeri, Verona, under the aegis of ArteVerona – Modern and Contemporary Art Fair 4 October 2008-11 January 2009 Museo di Fotografia Contemporanea 15 November 2009 – 2 May 2010

Olivo Barbieri (Carpi-Modena, 1954) studied at DAMS in Bologna and has been taking photographs since the early ‘70s. He focuses on the urban landscape and architecture, often shooting at night. For many years he has been known on the international scene for his photographs and videos of the world’s great cities shot from a helicopter.

Pierre Cordier (Brussels, Belgium, 1933) is known as the inventor of the chemogram, a technique that he began practicing in 1956. He has always conducted experimental research, producing largely abstract images akin to graphic design and painting.

Franco Fontana (Modena, 1933) has been active in the field of photography since the early ‘60s. His method involves applying color to geometrized natural landscapes, to the urban landscape, the human figure and the nude in an approach characterized by simplification and stylization.

Jean-Louis Garnell (Dolo, France, 1954) is a photographer and teacher who, after taking part in publically funded DATAR Photographic Mission to document the territory, shifted his focus to domestic spaces, everyday life and objects, using different forms of composition and digital experimentation.

Mario Giacomelli (Senigallia-Ancona, 1925-2000), master of 20th-century Italian photography and one of the most renowned photographers internationally, he focused intensively on the rural landscape and the human body in all its different ages. His tendency toward abstraction gives his work a strong and sometimes dramatic expressiveness.

Paolo Gioli (Sarzano-Rovigo, 1942), among the most original and profound painters, filmmakers and photographers at the international level, has been working for years on issues of the body, the face and human identity, experimenting incessantly with the materials of photography and film, always inventing new visual codes.

Franco Grignani (Pieve di Monte Morone-Pavia, 1908-1999), architect and designer, uses photography in an experimental way, investigating perception, sub-perception, lateral vision and optical distorsions, achieving abstract results of great graphic impact.

Roberto Masotti (Ravenna, 1947) is renowned as a photographer of the theater, jazz and contemporary music, a field in which he also produces multimedia projects. From 1979 to 1996 he was the official photographer of the Teatro alla Scala with Silvia Lelli. He also conducts intensive research on the natural world.

Nino Migliori (Bologna, 1926) is a photographer and teacher. After starting out in social photography, he has continuously dedicated himself to experimental research off-camera using a range of techniques, from photograms to hydrograms to cliché-verre, of which is considered a master.

Paolo Monti (Novara, 1908 – Milan, 1982) was a great master of 20th-century Italian photography. Teacher as well as photographer, esteemed collaborator of art historians and architects, his work addressed the natural landscape, architecture, the historic centers of Italian cities and works of art.

Aaron Siskind (New York, 1903 – Providence, 1991), professor and later director of the department of photography of the IIT Institute of Design in Chicago and a founder of the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, was a master of 20th-century photography, best known for his work with abstract forms rooted in Abstract Expressionism.

Luigi Veronesi (Milan, 1908-1998), painter, graphic designer and filmmaker, is considered one of the most important artists of the abstractionist movement. As a multidimensional artist, he studied the relationship between color and music; as a photographer, he pushed the boundaries of the photogram and montage techniques.

Silvio Wolf (Milan, 1952), a multimedia artist who dedicated himself in the ’70s and ’80s to analytical research on the codes of photography. Subsequently, he has also realized projections, light and sound installations and site-specific works often based on photography.


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