A series of exhibitions organized at Villa Manin di Passariano
, in Casarsa della Delizia and in Pordenone celebrates the eighty years of Elio Ciol, one of the Italian landscape photographers better known in the world, and sixty years of professional work of the artist. Elio Ciol is known mainly for his photographic interpretations of Italian landscape and for his work of documentation of artistic heritage. The Villa Manin exhibition deals with a lesser known period of the photographer, that of the years of his formation, between 1950 and 1964.
Italy was living at the time a period of great creative ardour in all fields, from cinema to literature, from arts to photography. The country had just come out of the war, and in the developed areas was in the middle of the great work of industrial transformation. The climax of neorealism brought innovative sights on this society in transformation with messages that penetrated deeply in the population thanks to the diffusion of cinema and printed press.
Elio Ciol, making his debut, participated to the debate in those years, for example attending to the club La Gondola in Venice, that in those years was a focal point of photographic creativity. He also narrated with his images the fervent climate of social transformation, but also the seeming stillness of the countryside and the mountains in Friuli and Veneto, that in that period were still living in ancient ways of life and production; and also the enchantment of Southern Italy, very similar to what fascinated the travelers of Grand Tour in 18th century. Elio Ciols narration showed also the signs of a refined language, built through a formal research hooked to black and white. Life and aesthetics blend in the images of the period, and the proof is in the extraordinary photographs Ciol shot a few hours after the Vajont tragedy.
The work as stage photographer for the film Gli Ultimi written by David Maria Turoldo and directed in 1972 by Vito Pandolfi deserves particular attention. Turoldo built an elelegy of the values of traditional country life which is more important to us now then when the film was produced (it was a huge commercial disaster). The photographs of Ciol are a story within the story they show moments of the backstage, expressions of actors and film crew, but they also show that Friuli landscape that was already part of his view.
The exhibition shows also other moments that seem to come from a distant past. Visions of Venice, of Assisi, of the countryside around Milan, moments of the mountain life, realities that in a few years were going to be transformed by modernity. The gaze of Ciol was also slowly transforming itself, creating the fine art philosophy that emerged even when his lens framed people, sights, expressions.
The exhibition is made of 140 photographs, many of which never previously shown, and is held in a lateral building of Villa Manin, the great country palace near Codroipo that has been one of the major exhibition sites of Friuli Venezia Giulia county for many years.
The exhibition is open from Tuesday to Friday from 14 to 19; Saturday and Sunday from 10 to 19. Entrance is free.
Two more exhibitions, one at the Pasolini Study Center in Casarsa della Delizia and the other in Pordenone, will be part of the tribute to Elio Ciol.
The etched light
Centro Studi Pasolini, Casarsa della Delizia, September 26 December 8 2009
Landscape photography has given fame to Elio Ciol, thanks to a long work of refinement that the photographer has brought forward for decades from different subjects, from the great areas and skies of the Friuli plain to the mountain and the lagoons. During the course of time the vision of Ciol has changed, drying up, reducing the images to few essential elements immersed in strong structural lines. Moreover, as it seldom happens, the things portrayed, stones, plants, wood, vines, rivers, skies, seem to represent something more than their pure aspect. The interpretation of this something more depends upon the looker: different cultures can see the hand of God, the breath of Mother Nature, the extraordinary capability of interpretation by man. The etched light in particular shows the vision on Friuli, filtered through all the expression power of black and white.
The face and the word
San Francesco Church, Pordenone, November 28 2009 January 31 2010
Obscured by his creative work, the activity of Elio Ciol as documentarian of artistic heritage has been the main part of the professional work of his studio, and has been the main part of tens of books and publications. The Elio Ciol archive is a cultural heritage in itself, with unpredictable roles: for example the archive has been instrumental in the work of rebuilding and restoration after the Friuli earthquake in 1976. The Assisi Basilica has been victim of earthquake itself, and this place, one of the great treasures of arts and faith in the world, has been entirely explored and documented through Elio Ciols cameras and lenses.
The exhibition in Pordenone is not an example of reproduction of the great cycles of frescos of the temple devoted to St. Francis, but an example of interpretation and rereading, in colour and with big format prints, of one of the highest moments of late medieval art: details of faces, expressions, corners hardly readable by the visitors because of light conditions or because of their height from the basilica pavement, are displayed to form a genuine new course, a fascinating example of the contribution photography can give to the knowledge of other arts.
Elio Ciol was born at Casarsa della Delizia (Pn) where he still lives and works.
He began working in his fathers photography studio at an early age. He acquired substantial technical experience and developed his own way of interpreting works of art and expressing himself in photography, outstandingly in the landscape.
Ever seeking new techniques and new forms of pictorial communication, he was a member of the Udine film club from 1955 to 1965. He made several documentaries, taking his time, winning awards in the Concorso Nazionale del Cineamatore of Montecatini and the Concorso Internazionale del Cineamatore of Salerno.
From 1955 to 1960 he was a member of the La Gondola photography club in Venice.
In 1962 he was the official set photographer during the shooting of the film Gli ultimi by Vito Pandolfi and Father David Maria Turoldo.
In 1963 in Milan he collaborated with Luigi Crocenzi in founding the Arnaldo and Fernando Altimani Foundation for the study and experimentation of all forms of pictorial communication.
The same year at the Ambrosianeum in Milan he exhibited the photographs of his report on the activity of Gioventù Studentesca in the Lower Milanese.
A great many photography exhibitions in Italy and abroad. Two highly significant retrospectives: in 1999 organised by the Civici Musei and the Municipality of Udine in the grandiose exhibition space of the Church of San Francesco and in 2002 sponsored by the Municipality of Padua in the Palazzo del Monte di Pietà.
In 2004 the Province of Pordenone and the Municipality of Casarsa della Delizia sponsored a show of his latest photographs mounted in diptychs and triptychs. A seminar on photography collecting, La memoria ambigua, was held on the occasion.
In 2006 he was invited to show at the Museo Diocesano and the Tiepolo Galleries in Udine.
In 2006 the Cohen Amador Gallery in New York presented his one-man show.
In 2007 he was invited to the Meeting per lamicizia tra i popoli at Rimini, with Pepi Merisio, for a retrospective.
In 2009 he was invited by the Centro Culturale Candiani of Mestre-Venice for a retrospective titled Elio Ciol. Terre di poesia.
The same year, on the occasion of the awarding of the title Borderlander to Claudio Magris, he was invited to present the show La luce incisa at Sejny, Poland, at the Gallery of the White Synagogue.
He received prizes and awards, including, to quote only the most recent: 1991, Citizen of the Year; 1992, London, Kraszna Krausz Prize for the photography book Assisi, shared with books by Sebastião Salgado, Paul Strand and Irving Penn; 1993, Pordenone, San Marco Award; 1995, Spilimbergo, CRAF Friuli-Venezia Giulia Special Prize for Photography; 1996, London, Kraszna Krausz Prize for the photography book Venezia, shared with books by R. Doisneau, E. Hartmann and N. Rosenblum; 1997, Amsterdam, World Press Photo, Third Prize in the category Nature and Environment; 1999, Buia, Nadal Furlan Award 1999, XXI year;2001, Padua, Dietro lobiettivo: una vita, Foto Padova 2001; 2003, Padua, Premio Foto Padova 2003 per il migliore fotolibro, Ascoltare la luce.
His photographs are in the collections of the following museums: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; International Museum of Photography, Rochester, New York; Center for Creative Photography Tucson, Arizona; Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin; The Art Museum, Princeton University, New Jersey; Centre Canadien dArchitecture, Montréal, Canada; The Art Institute of Chicago; The University College of Wales, Aberystwyth; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Musée de la Photographie, Charleroi; Civici Musei e Gallerie di Storia e Arte, Udine; Galleria di Arte Contemporanea Pro Civitate Christiana, Assisi; Museo Diocesano e Gallerie del Tiepolo, Udine; and in many private galleries.
He collaborates with the leading publishers and with his photographs has contributed to over two hundred books.