Luigi Ghirri Italian Memories. Landscape and Architecture

Biancalucia Maglione


«I did not tried to produce PHOTOGRAPHS, but rather CHARTS or MAPS that were photographs at the same time» (Ghirri, L.,1979: 63-64).

Since the late 1960s, Luigi Ghirri received attention as landscape photographer with an original  and   attentive   perspective.  Ghirri's   pictures  precisely  outline   a  map   of  the Italian human, natural  and architectural  landscape. In the '8os, in fact, the architect and friend Vittorio Savi "discovered" Ghirri as architectural  photographer, convincing  him  to "portray" the works of great Italian architects, starting from the cemetery of San Cataldo in Modena  by Aldo Rossi, whose photos were then  published  on the Architectural Magazine 'Lotus  International'. This was the first example of a renewed photograph-architecture re­lationship, where the first is not just a "documentation" of the second, but also a work with its own  artistic  autonomy. The purpose  of my  paper  is to investigate  the  way  in  which Ghirri's pictures, especially those portraying  the works of urban  planners, provide a new iconography  of  the  Italian  landscape,  defining  a  clear identity, and  creating "areas  of memory", as Ghirri himself used to say, examples of historical and contemporary objects at the  same  time,  scenes of  possible events  although  not  described yet. While  taking  into account the influence that conceptual art had on Ghirri, I will then analyze a range of case studies, in  particular  drawn  from  the large "Paesaggio italiano"  (1980-1992),  and from 'Viaggio in Italia' (1984) - a journey from Bari to Reggio Emilia, which was supposed to investigate the changes in the Italian landscape between the '6os and '7os. In this way, it is possible to explore the role of photography in Ghirri in portraying and  understanding the country's genius loci and inlaying  the foundations for shaping a recognizable aesthetics of the Italian landscape and providing at the same time a critical interpretation of it.

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