Capolavori del Museo di Fotografia Contemporanea

Ieri Oggi Milano Masterpieces from Museo di Fotografia Contemporanea

Curated by Roberta Valtorta

The exhibition includes 170 photographs and videos by 43 Italian and foreign authors (Giampietro Agostini, Marina Ballo Charmet, Olivo Barbieri, Gianni Berengo Gardin, Gabriele Basilico, Luca Campigotto, Vincenzo Castella, Mario Cattaneo, Carla Cerati, Giovanni Chiaramonte, Cesare Colombo, John Davies, Attilio Del Comune, Paola De Pietri, Paola Di Bello, Peter Fischli & David Weiss, Emilio Frisia, Moreno Gentili, Paolo Gioli, Paul Graham, Guido Guidi, Giovanni Hänninen, Mimmo Jodice, Uliano Lucas, Tancredi Mangano, Paola Mattioli, Gianfranco Mazzocchi, Paolo Monti, Toni Nicolini, Enzo Nocera, Federico Patellani, Tino Petrelli, Bernard Plossu, Pietro Privitera, Francesco Radino, Achille Sacconi, Beat Streuli, Thomas Struth, Pio Tarantini, Alessandro Vicario, Massimo Vitali, Manfred Willmann, Giovanni Ziliani ) drawn from 12 photography collections, dating from World War II to the present. Dedicated to the transformation of the city urbanistically (the post-war period, the suburbs, factories, the contemporary construction sites of a city that is becoming a metropolis), socio-economically (working-class Milan, families, young people, the bourgeoisie) and culturally (the worlds of art, design, architecture, film), the exhibition is divided into six thematic and chronological sections. The variety of approaches (classic reportage, architectural and landscape photography, studio and contextual portraiture) makes it possible to explore the different languages and purposes of photography, from documentation to artistic composition.

Spazio Oberdan, Milan 19 June – 30 August 2015

Giampietro Agostini (Borgo Valsugana-Trento, 1960) has been working for years on the photography of architecture and man-made and natural landscapes, as well as the relationship between man and the environment in which he lives, through both his personal artistic enquiry and participation in public patronage projects.

Marina Ballo Charmet (Milan, 1952), an artist who trained in philosophy and psychoanalysis, known in Italy and Europe, has worked for years with photography and video, directing a peripheral and indirect gaze at the landscape, ordinary everyday objects and the human figure.

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.

Gabriele Basilico (Milan, 1944-2013), an architect by training, is one of the greatest contemporary Italian photographers and one of the best known internationally. Since the mid-‘70s he has devoted his tireless and methodical research to the city as a complex organism and to the transformations of the post-industrial landscape.

Gianni Berengo Gardin (Santa Margherita Ligure-Genoa, 1930) is one of the most renowned European photographers. Master of social narrative and specialist in landscape and architectural photography, he has produced an enormous body of work and an extraordinary number of books.

Luca Campigotto (Venice, 1962) after graduating in history, he specialized in landscape and architectural photography, making trips to Africa, South America, North America and Asia. His interests range from the latest metropolitan architecture to that of the ancient world.

Vincenzo Castella (Naples, 1952) after studying anthropology, he became a photographer in the mid-‘70s. He studies industrial facilities, the metropolis, the landscape in transformation, the contaminations taking place in cities and new urban narratives.

Mario Cattaneo (Milan, 1916 – India, 2004) is a photographer belonging to that generation who, in the second half of the 20th century, found in amateur photography clubs a forum of expression and debate. His work deals with social reportage, lifestyle and portraiture.

Carla Cerati (Bergamo, 1926 - Milano, 2016) has been a writer and photographer since the early ‘60s. An important exponent of the Italian school of reportage, after having devoted herself to the theater, she turned her critical eye to fundamental issues of society, politics, customs and culture.

Giovanni Chiaramonte (Varese, 1948) is one of the most important exponents of the Italian landscape school. In addition to being a photographer, he is a teacher, photography scholar, curator and publisher, activities through which he has greatly enlivened Italian photographic culture.

Cesare Colombo (Milan, 1935-2016) is a social and industrial photographer, but also a researcher and scholar of Italian photography. Active since the mid-‘50s, his many exhibitions and publications constitute an important contribution to historical research and our understanding of Italian society through photography.
John Davies (Sedgefield, UK, 1949), internationally renowned exponent of documentarism, he is one of Europe's leading photographers. Since the mid-‘70s he has focused on the natural, rural and urban landscapes, mainly using the method of the panoramic view.

Attilio Del Comune (Mantova, 1928 - Milan, 2000) is a well-known industrial and advertising photographer, and above all a portraitist. For years he photographed personalities from the worlds of economics, art, culture and music, both inside the studio and out.

Paola De Pietri (Reggio Emilia, 1960) studied at DAMS in Bologna and then devoted herself to photography. Her work, recognized at the European level, is dedicated to the theme of change and humanity's relationship with natural and man-made environments.

Paola Di Bello (Naples, 1961), lecturer and chair of the Master of Photography program at the Accademia di Brera in Milan, she works with photography and video. Known at the European level, she investigates the language of mechanical images and the urban landscape, and is involved in public art projects.

Gilbert Fastenaekens (Brussels, Belgium, 1955), a member of the Royal Academy of Belgium, is dedicated to landscape and architectural photography. In the second half of the ‘80s he took part in the DATAR Photographic Mission.

Peter Fischli & David Weiss (Zurich, Switzerland, 1946-2012; 1952) are among the most important photographers, sculptors and filmmakers on the international stage. They began working together since the late ‘70s, investigating the banalities of everyday life, landscapes and objects with an ironic eye.

Emilio Frisia (Merate-Lecco, 1924 - Milan, 2004), after studying the humanities, dedicated himself to journalism, social and landscape photography, drawing, and teaching photography at the Humane Society, the Institute of St. Catherine of Siena in Milan and the State Institute of Art in Monza.

Moreno Gentili (Como, 1960), photographer, designer, author and screenwriter, his enquiry ranges from landscape to social commentary, addressing issues such as ecology, contemporary technology, history and environmental protection with a strong critical voice.

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.

Paul Graham (Stafford, UK, 1956) is an innovator of contemporary British photography and an renowned artist on the international scene. His work examines the landscape and the existential states of modern man.

Guido Guidi (Cesena, 1941), who worked for years at the IAUV – Architecture Institute of Venice – is respected internationally as a master landscape photographer. Researcher, professor and subtle investigator of pictorial space, he has been active since the late ‘60s.

Giovanni Hänninen (Helsinki, Finland, 1976), an engineer by training, is a lecturer in architectural photography at the Milan Politecnico and dedicates his photographic research, conducted for public and private institutions, to contemporary urban development.

Mimmo Jodice (Naples, 1934), for years a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Naples and reference point for the culture of the South, is a master of Italian photography recognized worldwide. He studies landscape, historic and contemporary architecture and the myths of classical antiquity and the Mediterranean.

Uliano Lucas (Milan, 1942) is a leading Italian photojournalist. An astute investigator of the problems of contemporary society and scholar of the history of reportage, he has worked for major newspapers and volunteer organizations, combining his profession with social engagement.

Tancredi Mangano (Lisieux, France, 1969), engraver, photographer and lecturer, is a refined artist who has always placed the theme of nature, seen in its original integrity but also transformed by man-made structures, at the center of his enquiry.

Paola Mattioli (Milan, 1948), philosopher by training, she began doing photography during university and became an assistant to Ugo Mulas. Mainly a portraitist but also a social photographer, she is interested in the image of women and, in parallel, in the languages of photography itself.

Gianfranco Mazzocchi (Redavalle-Pavia, 1935), photographer and lecturer, was coordinator of photography courses for the Humane Society, then for the Centro Riccardo Bauer, from 1973 to 1994. He delicately explored the world of school, Milanese society and everyday life in the Oltrepò Pavese.

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.

Toni Nicolini (Milan, 1935-2012), a sensitive and civic-minded photographer, created social and urban reportage on Italian and foreign cities, collaborating with the Italian Touring Club, the Fondazione Corrente and Bocconi University of Milan.

Enzo Nocera (Milan, 1944 - 1993), industrial photographer, reporter and above all portraitist, documented the world of work and Milanese society between the '70s and ‘90s. He is known and loved for having revived and relaunched the studio portrait staged in a deliberately classical way.

Federico Patellani (Monza, 1911 - Milan, 1977) was one of the masters of Italian photojournalism, recognized throughout Europe. A cultured and refined narrator, he bore witness to postwar Italy and its economic recovery, customs and cultural life, also working in film.

Tino Petrelli (Fontanafredda-Pordenone, 1922 - Piacenza, 2001) was one of the great Italian photojournalists. Active since the late ‘30s with the Publifoto agency, he documented the major issues of Italian society, such as WWII, the reconstruction, the economic boom and the ‘Southern question’.

Bernard Plossu (Da Lat, Vietnam, 1945), one of the most important contemporary French photographers, is a traveler and a narrator of landscapes and people in Europe, USA, Mexico, Africa, with a distinctively spontaneous language.

Pietro Privitera (Milan, 1953), after studying philosophy, dedicated himself to theater photography, Polaroid experimentation and fashion photography, supplementing his artistic production with the study of history and the language of images.

Francesco Radino (Bagno a Ripoli-Florence, 1947) took up photography after studying sociology. One of the most important contemporary Italian photographers, he explores industry, cities, objects, animals and nature, looking for human stories in the landscape.

Achille Sacconi (Treviso, 1927), architect and urban planner, was the coordinator of the Architectural and Environmental Heritage project for the Province of Milan, as well as the Space Archive project. As a photographer, he examines the man-made landscape, architecture and nature.

Beat Streuli (Altdorf, Switzerland, 1957) is a well-known artist on the international scene whose work encompasses photography, video, multimedia installations and public art. He has worked for years on the flow of pedestrian traffic on the streets of the world’s great metropolises.

Thomas Struth (Geldern am Niederrhein, Germany, 1954), one of the most famous exponents of the Düsseldorf School, is an artist of great international prestige. His work focuses on landscape, architecture, museums, nature and portraiture.

Pio Tarantini (Torchiarolo-Lecce, 1950) studied political science and began working in photography and film in the early '70s. He explores the contemporary landscape, and for many years has been developing a personal project on the theme of memory and motion in the photographic image.

Alessandro Vicario (Modena, 1968), photographer and journalist, chooses the urban environment and domestic interiors saturated with memories as his subjects, using the image as a tool for the investigation of the signs and traces of human habitation.

Massimo Vitali (Como, 1944) is one of the most internationally renowned photographers. Photojournalist during the '70s and film and television cinematographer in the' 80s, he later created views of the contemporary landscape densely inhabited by human figures.

Manfred Willmann (Graz, Austria, 1952) is internationally known both as a photographer and as a cultural operator. Since 1980 he has been the editor of the prestigious magazine Camera Austria. He works on the languages and narrative structures of photography.

Giovanni Ziliani (Canneto-Mantova, 1943), a painter by training, he combines experimentation with photographic languages with teaching. A scholar of the theme of time in photography, he has done in-depth studies on the techniques of montage and blurring.


Ragazze aggregate a gruppi di partigiani in Via Brera
Often in the photo reportage of Tino Petrelli there a two coexisting stories, one tied to the historical circumstances and the other to the people represented therein. It’s April 26th 1945, the day after the liberation of the city from the Nazis, and the resistance fighters have taken to the streets. In the foreground, three women walk purposefully carrying rifles, eyes forward. There is no violence, but rather determination, dressed in skirts and blouses, that conveys an image of female pride. The men follow a few steps behind.
Patellani FEDERICO PATELLANI Milano, 1945 Witness to the reconstruction immediately after the war, Federico Patellani recounts with a delicate eye the story of a man and woman walking arm in arm along a street on the outskirts of Milan, like a scene from a Neorealist film. In a return to normality, they walk toward us as we watch them, leaving behind their joined shadows which point to a lone man proceeding in the opposite direction. The couple are immersed in conversation, or perhaps simply in love, in the manner of days gone by. Monti PAOLO MONTI Muro a Milano, 1954 In the 1950s, Milan still carried the scars of a war just recently concluded. Paolo Monti, with a tireless eye for the observation of the material sphere, chooses a tight crop to create a two-dimensional image that leaves little room for understanding the surrounding context. What we see are a wall and a damaged, peeling door, ruins symbolizing the wounds suffered by the city, like the skin of a violated body. The viewer cannot but continuously scrutinize every detail in order to decipher the indecipherable. Berengo GIANNI BERENGO GARDIN Casa di ringhiera, anni 70 These images by Gianni Berengo Gardin reveal his great ability to capture everyday life from up close. In this case, we feel we are present as he shows us tenements with communal balconies, a collective existence that unfolds on the balconies and between floors. The richness of simplicity can be seen inside and outside the homes, in the men and women of every age, in the railings over which the day’s laundry intermingles with art, in the paintings propped on shelves and the songs improvised as if on a stage. There are only two visible floors, but we can imagine them infinitely continuing above and below, creating unpredictable visual games. Cattaneo MARIO CATTANEO Luna Park, 1955-1965 he ‘60s were the years of a newfound serenity in Italy, of which Mario Cattaneo is the poetic and sincere narrator. This image taken at Luna Park is a complex play of intersecting lines, drawings, words, materials and forms in which the eye moves in spirally around until finding repose in the gaze of the boy standing in the center of the scene, who is not looking at the seated girl but at another girl, of whom we can only see her feet at the left edge, thereby taking us out of the frame and opening up our imagination. Lucas ULIANO LUCAS Piazza Duca D’Aosta, Milano 1968 In the work of Uliano Lucas, reportage combines with social commitment. The low point of view creates a powerful image, an icon of the great emigration from the southern Italy to Milan. The deep symbolic meaning of this photograph is generated by the relationship between the foreground subject, immobile and disoriented, carrying a suitcase and a cardboard box held together by string, and the massive Pirelli skyscraper that looms over him like a giant weight on his shoulders. A metaphor of labor and power, in which man is the gear that enables the great machine to move. Nocera ENZO NOCERA Pirelli, stabilimento Bicocca
Laboratorio prove cavi, 1976
The famous portraitist Enzo Nocera enters the Pirelli factories to photograph the workers in their workplace. These images tell us about the importance of belonging to a group, sharing the fatigue of work day after day, the pride of being part of a factory. A planned shot, posed, which for a moment interrupts production, silencing the dense noise of the factory to grant the men and women, who are oftentimes just numbers, a bit of vanity.
Colombo CESARE COLOMBO Assemblea degli studenti del Politecnico
Milano, 1968
One look and we find ourselves immediately in front of the university, participating in the student protests that agitated the hearts of young people and politicians alike in the late ‘60s. Photo reportage works only if it makes us protagonists and not spectators, and in this Cesare Colombo is a master. He is part of the event and we with him, hearing the same noise, trying to see who is speaking through the hands of strangers raised in front of us. It doesn’t matter that the framing is careless, the horizon distorted, the composition contrary to every rule of harmony. What matters is being there.
basilico GABRIELE BASILICO "Milano. Ritratti di fabbriche", 1978-1980 The gaze becomes a lens, thoughtful, pure and geometrical in the unmistakable style of Gabriele Basilico. The factory dematerializes and transforms into a pattern of lines and forms, of black and white contrasts. Yet something, always, gives three-dimensionality and substance to the image, in this case a large shadow that darkens the entire street and sidewalk in front of the white building. It is the volume of the city behind us, the same city whose outer boundary is defined by the factory itself, while the shadow of a lamppost on the right breaks the linear rhythm of the windows. Nocera ENZO NOCERA Lanfranco Colombo, "Gente di Brera", 1981 Milan is made of people, of its workers and of the intellectuals and artists who bring ideas to life in the substratum of the urban cultural scene. The studio portraits of Enzo Nocera take us back to a classical vision, placing at the center the individual and his personality, often tied to the profession. Posed portraits with careful lighting and a neutral but distinctive background, painted in rough brushstrokes: the faces of Gente di Brera (‘Brera people’) testify to the historical identity of the quarter, are the testimonies of historical identity of the neighborhood, which in those years was being transformed into the Brera we know today. Ziliani GIOVANNI ZILIANI Pensieri di figure, 1984 The subway stairs are a place of transit par excellence: people move quickly, passing by, no one ever stopping there because the only purpose of this place is to reach another place. Giovanni Ziliani, a painter by training, experimented with shutter speeds of a few tenths of a second, long by photography standards, which prevents us from recognizing the faces of the commuters, making them appear, because of the blurred movement, more like ghosts than as men and women. Thus the individual disappears, blending into the mass to become part of a steady stream of anonymous souls. Mangano TANCREDI MANGANO "In urbe", 2001 Walking the streets of the city, it is rare that the eye falls upon the plants that grow between the slabs of cement. Yet Tancredi Mangano, in this series, restores their lost dignity and allows us to observe them, helping us discover with amazement an otherwise invisible nature world of incredible variety. The green catches your eye, standing out against the gray background, where walls and roads are conquered, albeit on a very small scale, by a flourishing flora. The titles of the photos, with Latin names like in a herbarium, take us back to botany and the higher scientific study of plant species. Castella VINCENZO CASTELLA "Milano 1998" In this image by Vincenzo Castella, the city becomes a sedimentation of vertical layers, the buildings have distances and structural relationships between them that constitute the representation of the place. The shot does not leave space to the urban landscape, closing in on the small portion of space visible from a window. The eye immediately encounters other buildings, the unfocused grille in the foreground and the uniformity of the colors make us feel trapped in a city that keeps us for itself. FW FISCHLI & WEISS "Untitled (Milano Duomo)", 1992-2000 Milan seen from the Duomo, instead of the Duomo seen from Milan: this is how the team of Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss decided to portray the city. The tall spires, unmistakable clues as to where the photograph was taken, tower in the foreground, just as the buildings rise from the city in a game of vertical elements. The reddening sunset merges with the fog and shows us a Milan stripped bare, caught almost by surprise, not having had time to tidy up for the occasion. Struth THOMAS STRUTH "Mailand 1998" The monumental solemnity of the Duomo, heart and symbol of Milan, is presented in all its glory in this large-format photograph (135x160 cm). Thomas Struth, rigorous photographer of great architectural monuments, adopts a frontal view, elevated from the ground and excluding from the frame all the upper decorations and spires. The resulting image is dense, almost squashing the tiny, colorful figures who, as if to play down its grandeur, occupy the lower register. Barbieri OLIVO BARBIERI "site specific_milano 09", 2009 It is with an aerial view, characteristic of many of his works, that Olivo Barbieri shows us the new headquarters of the Region of Lombardy. From this unusual point of view, the image reveals a primordial form not visible from the city nor from any other place. The large-format black and white print (atypical for a photograph so contemporary in subject and language) invites us to scrutinize every detail, allowing us to discover a multitude of details in the bustle of the massive project still under construction. Hanninen GIOVANNI HÄNNINEN 29 backstage, Teatro alla Scala, Milano
from "La Scala, backstage", 2014-2015
Giovanni Hänninen leads us on a discovery of the Teatro alla Scala through a polyptych of images. La Scala, symbol of Milanese culture, shows itself in all its elegance. The static nature of the scene, made so by the absence of actors and audience, is broken only by the parting curtains. The true subject of the photograph is the elegance of the space, the tasteful decorations in gold and ivory, the crimson velvet curtains and red damask silk of the boxes.
basilico GABRIELE BASILICO Milano, 2008 Gabriele Basilico shows us the city in color as a living body: the urban fabric is the skin, the streets are connective sinew, the cars and construction vehicles are the blood flowing through its veins. The old must make way for the new in an unavoidable phase of transition. Just below the billboards, on the panels that surround the construction sites, you can see the message Milano si mostra (‘Milan shows itself’), which leads us to discover other images taken in the preceding months by Gabriele Basilico with his classical language. campigotto LUCA CAMPIGOTTO Milano, 2014 After years of upheavals, excavations, new construction sites, redirected roads and churning concrete mixers , everything seems ready: the city is finished. Luca Campigotto, landscape and architectural photographer, is ready to capture the new identity of Milan. The sun goes down, the lights come on and the spectacle begins, like a secular contemporary manger scene that captivates those who contemplate it.

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