Luigi Ghirri. Thinking Images

24 April – 27 October 2013
Gallery 2 and 2a
curated by Francesca Fabiani, Laura Gasparini, Giuliano Sergio

’How to think in pictures’. This sentence contains the meaning of all my work.
Luigi Ghirri

MAXXI is devoting a major anthological exhibition to the work of Luigi Ghirri, one of the undisputed masters of Italian photography. The exhibition is a joint venture between the museum and the municipality of Reggio Emilia, the city where the photographer lived and to which he left his archive. The original materials – photographs, galley proofs, books, catalogues and negatives – today conserved in the Biblioteca Panizzi, an institutional partner in the project, allow us to explore the diverse facets of this complex artistic figure.

The exhibition presents a brand-new overview of the photographer’s work through over 300 images, with particular attention being paid to the vintage prints produced directly by the artist.
The images will be accompanied by mock-ups for catalogues, published books, journals, reviews attesting to Ghirri’s activity as a publisher, critic and curator; a selection of photographs and artist’s books documenting his encounters and collaborations with Modena’s conceptual artists during the early 1970s; illustrated postcards and anonymous photographs collected by Ghirri, used to investigate his research into amateur photography and the stereotype of the landscape; a selection of books from Ghirri’s personal library that speak of his interests and cultural and artistic references; vinyl album covers that testify to Ghirri’s interest in music and his relationship with such artists as CCCP and Lucio Dalla.

The conceptual research is a starting point that allows Ghirri to build a new language that explores the usual places to reveal the icons that populate the contemporary world. Shop windows, advertisements, images of images, postcards and paintings that interact with reality, as well as the playgrounds, skies and people in moments of leisure, images that investigate the processes of seeing, but at the same time involve the viewer for their evocative capacity, icons of a collective memory.

In landscapes the icons are still present but the horizon expands. The warehouses, service stations, anonymous suburbs depict a society which Ghirri looks upon with affection and awe, combining artificial landscapes with the real prospects of finding a new identity outside of the stereotype. Ghirri was to become one of the in promoters of the renewal of landscape photography of the ‘80s that involved an entire generation of photographers. Taking on the iconographic tradition of Italy Ghirri regenerates it with simple images, in which the panoramas are interspersed with churches, theatres, interiors, piazzas, the “achievements” of the gates.

Even architecture is a constant instrument in the narration of Ghirri. The photographer builds a kind of inventory of anonymous building types and reflects on their interaction with green spaces. He interprets designer architecture and reveals the perspectives of villas and gardens with a solemn and unique lightness. The gaze on interiors opens an intimate dimension of lived experiences culminating in the exhibition of a self-portrait narrated through the objects, books and space of his own home.

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