Very often, while discussing about photography and its masters, we often refer to those from the Anglo-Saxon countries or, at least, from France. The truth is than in almost two centuries of photography, every country was able to produce its masters.
In this article I am going to present a list of some of the most representative artists from Italy, across different photographic styles. This can’t be of course a complete list, and I probably forgot to include some important name as well. Most of the artists in this article don’t have an official website, so I enclosed a link to their wikipedia page, as at starting point for those who want to deeply investigate the work of these extraordinary photographers.
Tina Modotti is probably the most import and famous Italian photographer from last century. She learnt photography rudiments from his uncle when still very young, but most of her expertise came from her relation with Edward Weston, a celebrate landscape photographers with whom he moved to Mexico. Its proximity to the Mexican Communist Party resulted in a 1929 exhibition that celebrated Tina as the greatest revolutionary photographer. One year after she was forced to leave Mexico and find repair in Europe, where permanently ended her photographic career.
Ghirri work is famous for his representation of surreal and almost metaphysical scenarios, where the human presence is only perceived, never shown openly. His color pictures where used as cover for important and famous Italian musical albums, but he is mostly recognised for his color landscapes, strongly influenced by conceptual art. His most famous series is Kodachrome (1978). Luigi Ghirri suddenly died by a heart attack when he was 49.
Luigi Ghirri on Wikipedia
Photographer Franco Fontana is best known for his colour landscapes and for the geometric compositions, highlighted by strongly contrasted tones and shapes. he started his career in the ’60 and he explored several different genres, from landscapes to portrait to artistic nude. His first exhibition was in 1963, and since then he exhibited his work in more than 400 shows and published around 40 photo books. He often referred to his colorful landscapes as “a physiological sensation, an emotion, an interpretation, and a path of knowledge”.
Gabriele Basilico’s began his career at the end of the 1960’s working on social survey photography. His first international assignment was in 1984, when he was invited to participate at the “Mission Photographique de la DATAR”, an important documentary project for the contemporary landscape transformations commissioned by the French government. On these subject, he has published over sixty personal books, and his photographs are part of prestigious Italian and international public and private collections.
Gabriele Basilico on Wikipedia
Paolo Pelligrin is recognized as one of the most important war photojournalists currently in activity. He collaborates with magazines such as Newsweek and the New York Times. He has been awarded with several prizes including the Robert Capa Gold Medal (2006), the Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography (2006), the Olivier Rebbot for Best Feature Photography (2004) and the Leica Medal of Excellence (2001). He also received ten World Press Photo awards between 1995 and 2013. He is permanent member of Magnum since 2005.
Paolo Pellegrin on Magnum
Letizia Battaglia owes its reputation to her pictures of the mafia crimes in Palermo, shot between 1974 and 1992. During those years, the criminal activity of the mafia was particularly fierce, and Battaglia was sometimes committed to take pictures in five different places in the same day. When the newspaper she was working for closed, she began to regroup her enormous body of work for several exhibitions, in Italy and abroad. She was awarded with the W. Eugene Smith Award in 1985.
Letizia Battaglia on Wikipedia
Davide Monteleone is an artist and a visual journalist working on long term independent project. He interrupted his engineering studies to pursue a career in photography and journalism, and started to work professionally in 2000 for many Italian and international magazines. He published several photo books like Dusha (2007), La linea Inesistente (2009) and Red Thistle (2012). He has won three World Press Photo awards in 2007, 2009, and 2011.
Guido Guidi was among the first in Italy to photograph the marginal and anti-specular landscape of the province. His research about the spontaneous construction of Eastern Romagna, or the Romea road connecting Cesena to Venice, or the subsequent ones about the industrial areas of Porto Marghera and Ravenna, focus on liminar locations familiar to the photographer. Among the books he published there are In Between Cities, Guardando a Est, A New Map of Italy and Veramente.
Guido Guidi on Wikipedia
Scianna took up photography while studying literature, philosophy and art history at the University of Palermo in the 1960’s. At the same time he began to systematically portray his people and his land, and in 1965 he published his first photo book, Feste religiose in Sicilia (Religious festivities in Sicily), which consecrated him among the great Italian photography authors. He was introduced to Magnum by Henri Cartier-Bresson and joined the agency in 1982. Among his most important works: Viaggio a Lourdes (1995), Quelli di Bagheria (2002) and Mondo bambino (2002).
Ferdinando Scianna on Wikipedia
Toscani started his photographic career between ’60 and ’70, working for established fashion magazines in Italy. He gained his reputation working in the advertising industry, mainly for the Benetton group, for whom he produced most of his shocking and controversial images. His work was often harshly criticised but at the same time exhibited in prestigious locations, like the Modern Art museums in Mexico City, Helsinki, Rome, Lausanne and Frankfurt. He was also awarded four times with the Golden Lion for advertising in Cannes.
What do you think of the work of these photographers? Do you know anyone else that should be included in this list? Let us know what you think using the comment form below.