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A master photographer at Maxxi: Luigi Ghirri: Thinking through Images"
Argine Agosta Comacchio, 1989, da: Il profilo delle nuvole (1980-1992). C-print, vintage, 42 x 50,5 cm. Collezione privata, Verona.

ROME.- Over 300 shots, above all vintage prints, in a major retrospective presenting an undisputed master of Italian photography.

The exhibition Luigi Ghirri. Thinking through images, at MAXXI from 24 April to 27 October 2013, has been organized by MAXXI Architettura, directed by Margherita Guccione, and curated by Francesca Fabiani, Laura Gasparini and Giuliano Sergio.

Born out of a collaboration with the Municipality of Reggio Emilia and the Biblioteca Panizzi, which conserves many of the original documents from Ghirri’s archive (photographs, proofs, books, catalogues and negatives), the exhibition recounts the diverse facets of this complex and versatile artist.

“MAXXI is a cultural hub, open to all forms of expression: design, photography, fashion, film, dance”, says Giovanna Melandri, president of the Fondazione MAXXI. “With this exhibition, with which I am particularly satisfied, we are paying tribute to one of the greatest and most complex Italian artists, celebrated throughout the world.

For this project, MAXXI has worked with the Biblioteca Panizzi and with the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, collaborated with the archive of the Ghirri heirs and obtained prestigious loans from CSAC in Parma, the National Institute of Graphics in Rome and from private collectors. This cultural network is one of the keystones of the museum’s mission.”

“With the exhibition dedicated to Luigi Ghirri, the museum is consolidating and explicating its mission to identify and promote the most significant and original artistic expressions from the middle of the last century through to the present", says Margherita Guccione, director of MAXXI Architettura. "In this sense Ghirri is a true innovator, an experimenter who invented a new approach to photography and looking at the contemporary landscape.”

Luigi Ghirri. Thinking through images is a exploration of the work of the emiliano photographer (1943-1992) through his unmistakeable photographs and through proofs for catalogues, books from his private collection, periodicals, reviews, collections of anonymous photographs, postcards and records, recounting his collaboration with the conceptual artists of the Seventies, his cultural and artistic references, his interest in music and his relationships with musicians such as the CCCP and Lucio Dalla. A Ghirri who was not only a photographer, but also a publisher, curator, theorist and cultural promoter, in constant dialogue with architects, musicians, writers and artists.

The exhibition is structured around three thematic sections – Icons, Landscapes and Architecture – and invites visitors to explore the various phases in Ghirri’s artistic research: the everyday icons, the landscapes as places of attention and affection and architecture, both high and anonymous. The vintage prints conserved in the Fototeca Panizzi, MAXXI, the CSAC in Parma, the National Graphic Institute in Rome, the archive of the Ghirri heirs and in other private collections, constitute the central nucleus of the exhibition. They are flanked by a restricted selection of new prints (from the negatives held by the Fototeca Panizzi) that offer a further instrument for the study and understanding of his work. The exhibits will be accompanied by citations from Ghirri's texts, selected to draw attention to the quality of his writing and to facilitate the public's comprehension of his research through his own words.

“The decision to proceed on the basis of themes rather than chronology reprises a typically Ghirri-esque modus operandi: photography understood as an unfinished object, a gigantic work in progress and under constant development”, say the curators Francesca Fabiani, Laura Gasparini and Giuliano Sergio.

The publications and the exhibitions that Ghirri realised during the course of his life frequently contained a vast number of photographs; the photographer organized these images into “series”, frequently revising them, modifying the sequences, utilising photographs created for one project and repositioned within new contexts, perhaps years later. The thematic configuration is thus intended to shed light on Ghirri’s working practice, underlining not only his specific photographic technique, but also the way in which he looked at, selected, arranged and ordered the photographs, in search of a new critical approach to thinking about the image, to thinking through images.

Luigi Ghirri is a fundamental figure in the photography of the second half of the 20th Century. he profoundly influenced international visual culture, above all through his capacity for imaging photography as a means of accessing the world and its representations.

His research drew on various sources that led him to explore new subjects and directions: amateur photography, assemblages mixing reality and representation, the everyday, landscapes, and high and popular architecture. The world, for Ghirri, is a spectacle of which the photographer has the task of deciphering, interpreting and translating. His photographs remind us today that his importance far outstrips his fame.

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