Luigi Ghirri

Luigi Ghirri

Luigi Ghirri, lived from 1943 until 1992, was a revolutionary photographer from Italy who gained an influential reputation as a master and pioneer of contemporary photography. In the 1970s, his career began with an organization headed by conceptual artists. This group had a major influence on Ghirri and he managed to present his first series of photographs about his homeland in an ambiguous and poetic way. He produced color photos of architecture and landscapes within conceptual art’s scope. His photographs were embedded with a straight-forward approach, sometimes veiled with ironic sense of humor. He always considered the questionable balance between surroundings and people through his images.

He made a series of work, taking images of parks, urban landscape, and beaches. His photos were of medium size and his utilization of color was hailed for its competence to express nostalgia and prescience.

In the 1970s, while he was becoming increasingly engrossed in his skills, photography in color particularly in Europe was struggling to locate its means to enter into galleries and museums. This explains why it took two decades almost after his death, for his work to gain significant consideration beyond Italian boundaries.

His work however did gain international awareness as well. In 1975, Luigi Ghirri was included in the Discoveries list of Time Life‘s annually published Photography Year issue. In the same year, he displayed his work at a show in Kassel, called Photography as Art, Art as Photography. In 1982, Ghirri was invited to Cologne’s Photokina, where the photographer was presented as among the twenty most important photographers of the twentieth century. He has been the topic of several books and work by him has been displayed at many different locations in the world, such as Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris), Museo della Fotografia Contemporanea (Milan), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Canadian Centre for Architecture (Montreal), Museum of Modern Art (New York), and Museum of Fine Arts (Houston).

In his own country, Luigi Ghirri developed an influential and strong voice much quicker. In 1977, he opened up a publishing house rather small in size, called Punto e Virgola along with Paola Borgonzoni, his wife as well as with a photographer friend Giovanni Chiaramonte. This step actually filled the gap in the scope of Italian institutions of art by dedicating to sustain the growth of the culture of photography. Ghirri focused on publishing essays and monographs of artists and by doing this, he hoped to spread photography’s artistic value and educate a scarcely literate audience in photography.

In 1978, with a low budget, Kodachrome became Ghirri’s publishing house’s first book that got printed. It assembled ninety-two images taken by Ghirri in Italy and areas surrounding it. In his images people hold secondary place in comparison to urban settings and landscapes which are more important features of his photos. Ghirri’s work is extremely precise and minimalistic. Some of his images resemble line drawings since the composition is so accurate. Apart from being a photographer, Ghirri was a creative writer too. His visual and theoretical ideas often appeared marvelously clairvoyant. He wrote the foreword for this work as well.

Ghirri’s ground-breaking vision gave a novel aesthetic and artistic identity to everyday spaces. Although his approach is simplistic many a times but it dispersed a sense of calmness and emptiness.

Mathew Marks Gallery represents Luigi Ghirri’s estate in New York.


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