This exhibition offers, in 134 images, a fairly comprehensive overview of the ways in which Italian photographers looked at the landscape from the post-war period until the 2010s.
It starts from the pictorialism of Peretti Griva, and the “calligraphism” of Giuseppe Cavalli who in 1947 founded the photographic group La Bussola, essential for the development of “artistic” photography in Italy.
Alongside the aestheticizing Bussola, the group La Gondola, with Monti and Berengo Gardin, had a more lyrical-realist approach; while Luigi Crocenzi – author of numerous photo-stories for Elio Vittorini’s journal Il Politecnico – may be regarded as a neo-realist photographer.
A common element was the observation of what in Italy – not only in the south – remained tethered to the past, a condition seen in the images of the aforementioned photographers and others; while two photographs by Carlo Cisventi epitomise coexisting aspects of the country in the 1950s: traditional fire rituals dating back to pre-Christian cults, industrial flames in the oil fields of the Po Valley.
In the 1960s and 1970s approaches to landscape became more experimental, the socio-geographical survey of territory was complemented by a burgeoning environmental awareness; at the same time, photographers such as Nino Migliori, Mario Giacomelli, Roberto Salbitani, steered photography towards linguistic, literary, conceptual directions.
A pivotal role in the development of landscape photography was played from the beginning of the 1980s by Guido Guidi, Luigi Ghirri, and Gabriele Basilico; it was especially Ghirri who – while engaging in a thoughtful investigation of the meanings of photography – organised a number of explorations focusing especially on the least apparent facets of the country. His projects of the 1980s, involving photographers and writers, changed the way of looking at the landscape, but also the status of the photographer, who would finally be regarded in all respects as a visual artist.
The last 20 years have seen the advent of digital imaging and post-production, and the entry of photography into the world of commercial galleries and of contemporary art museums. Landscape photography has further diversified; while, in the wake of Ghirri, it has remained an instrument for investigating the territory (Camisasca, Simonazzi, Raffaelli, Zanta, Citron, Botto), in another sense it got closer to painting, creating manipulated images often quite removed from the physical world.
Il Viaggio by Roberto Salbitani, 1972
Emilia by Guido Guidi, 1994
La Borsa di Trieste by Gabriele Basilico, 1996
From Mondo Piccolo by Paolo Simonazzi, 2007