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HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > Museo d'Arte of Lugano: Photo20esimo - Masters of 20th Century Photography [Maestri della fotografia del XX secolo]

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Museo d'Arte of Lugano
Photo20esimo - Masters of 20th Century Photography [Maestri della fotografia del XX secolo]

Born in the middle of the 19th Century, photography became in the course of the 20th Century not only one of the chief disciplines in the field of the visual arts but also a constant presence in every aspect of the civilization of the so called "age of the image", bearing witness to its cultural transformations. It first established itself as an obligatory source of information, and thereafter progressively turned to more profound investigation of the ultimate meaning of the changes that were taking place and –with an awareness and concreteness all of its own– rightly became an artistic medium in the full sense of the word.
Photo20esimo recounts the enthralling evolution of the photographic language with a selection of more than 300 works by masters such as Robert Capa, Robert Doisneau, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Mario Giacomelli, Nan Goldin, Mimmo Jodice, André Kertész, László Moholy-Nagy, Helmut Newton, Robert Mapplethorpe, Irving Penn, Man Ray, Bettina Rheims, Alexander Rodchenko, Thomas Ruff, Andres Serrano, Cindy Sherman, Edward Steichen, Edward Weston and many others.
The exhibition constitutes an homage to role that photography has played, and is still playing, as a witness to history and a fundamental creative instrument: photography is an artistic language that manages to be a sincere and faithful reminder of our past as well as a vivid and illusory interpreter of the creativity of the artists.
The exhibition display, articulated in eight sections dedicated to the most important photographic genres, constitutes a fascinating journey through an art that has been a protagonist of the 20th Century: from experimentations by Bauhaus artists to war reportages by Robert Capa and Don McCullin, from portraits by Richard Avedon and Nan Goldin to landscapes by Andreas Feininger and Mimmo Jodice, from body-centered photography by Bill Brandt and Robert Mapplethorpe to still life shots by Albert Renger-Patzsch and Edward Weston.
Despite its original function, which continued to be inextricably and ambiguously confused with its claim to be a medium destined for and devoted to analogical reproduction and the objective and naturalistic representation of the world, it is in its withdrawal from the external reality of things and, paradoxically, in the deliberate renunciation of its role as provider of documentary images, that photography recognizes, reveals and enhances the specificity of its idioms, overcoming the deep-seated prejudice regarding its mechanical nature, and once for all making a place for itself among the other arts.
Portraits evoke a stratified complexity, a weaving of meanings that transcend a simple resemblance – for the first time in history – mechanically, scientifically and therefore hypothetically incapable of lying. Meeting point for hopes and aspirations, for social roles and positions, transcending the individual, reaching a concept of identity and of the uncertainty of human existence, since, as Roland Barthes remind us in Camera Lucida, every photograph is tied to "what has been", and therefore, indissolubly, to death. Portraiture, in the XX century, freely experimented on the one hand by the avant-garde movements, and on the other hand made widely accessible with the democratization of the photographic means, has a relevant position in the evolution of the photographic language as the pictures of artists like Duane Michals, Roman Vishniac, Eugene William Smith, Richard Avedon, Eikoh Hosoe and Nan Golden show.
In portraiture, especially if the subject is an artist, the photograph search for the spontaneity, impossible to find in the photo studio, typical of everyday life or off-the-cuff situations, which really tell something about the personality, the lifestyle, the nature of the artist portrayed. Newman caught a thoughtful Picasso not holding a paintbrush, Mulas went into Robert Morris’s studio and share with us the different test strip of the photo session, Vishniac portrayed Chagall in an anti-pose and Fellini improvised a dance for Secchiaroli. Like an indiscrete eye on and accomplice to the relationship between the public and celebrities that today, more than ever, rightfully represents the continuous overlapping of public and private life, of show-business and dull everyday life, obscured by the fascination of "stardust".
The fitfulness with which we have addressed the issue of the nude sometimes led us to forget that photographing the human body touches on many other genres and situations. Through photography, artists renew their long love story with the body and retrieve the original meaning of the figurative and psychological study of the human being. They experiment, they improvise, they distort reaching an innovative union between fantasy and technique.
Generally photographs search for an authentic, even innocent, but nonetheless bright and honest look when they inquire the landscape we live in and from which we are unwittingly shaped, also on a psychological level. This chapter reveals as well how colour enriches, in many different and important ways, the representation of reality.
Reportage brings together side by side what is absolutely unique and what is ordinarily repeatable, it overlays a weekday dimension and a meeting with history, the noise of life and the silence of death, the stolen moment and a form of the sacred. The photo journalistic experience synthesizes a photography of irreconcilable opposites, it puts together the improbability of the "decisive moment" prophesized by Cartier Bresson and an anonymous moment, the aesthetical gap between the eye and a life beating faster than usual.
At the origins of photography, since the features of the medium did not enable to shoot movement over long exposure times, objects were the first to be photographed and therefore still life was, necessarily rather than a choice, one of the first "genres" in the history of photography. These representations in which objects became the main characters and showed themselves as they were, beyond their functions, highlighted a close convergence between the still life "genre" and the very mechanisms of photographic representation. In still life photography focuses on the fragment, the detail, totally marginal on a space and time level, but which, extrapolated, it is able to entirely show its signifying and evocative power.
The ethics of beauty find their own ideal borders in fashion and in photography, thus reconciling the flow and an interruption in the flow, the ephemeral and the permanent, the transient and the eternal. Photography and fashion have constantly played along the knife-edge between the two extremes, violating it, opening new frontiers for exploration of the social being. Black and white, like a backstage and a stage with the never-ending interferences, make it possible to track down in the course of the XX century clothes, faces, bodies and backdrops, perfect and smooth at times, while wrinkled and imperfect at other times; they make it possible to describe and analyse an uncertain geography of taste, which oscillates between dazzling beauties and bloody details, which mixes the trivial and the sublime and which, through the ecstasy of late-modernity idol culture, tells us much more about our world and about its tragedies and beauties.
Artists on display
Berenice Abbott (1898-1992)
Paola Agosti (1947)
Manuel Alvarez Bravo (1902-2002)
Nobuyoshi Araki (1940)
Diane Arbus (1923-1971)
Richard Avedon (1923-2004)
Roberto Baccarini, Angelo Porta
David Bailey (1938)
Gianpaolo Barbieri (1940)
Olivo Barbieri (1954)
Gabriele Basilico (1944)
Herbert Bayer(1900-1985)
Irene Bayer (1898-1991)
Peter Beard (1938)
Cecil Beaton (1904-1980)
Manfredi Bellati (1932)
Gianni Berengo Gardin (1930)
Werner Bischof (1916-1954)
Erwin Blumenfeld (1897-1969)
Achille Bologna (1888-1958)
Gino Bolognini (1908-1994)
Mario Bonzuan (1904-1982)
Alexander Borodulin (1952)
Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971)
Arturo Bragaglia (Studio Bragaglia) (1894-1960)
Bill Brandt (1904-1983)
Brassaď (Gyula Halász) (1899-1984)
Josef Breitenbach (1896-1984)
Anton Bruhel (1900-1982)
René Burri (1933)
William Burroughs (1914-1997)
Jo Ann Callis (1940)
Robert Capa (Endre Friedmann) (1913-1954)
Lisetta Carmi (1924)
Giuseppe Cavalli (1904-1961)
Giovanni Chiaramonte (1948)
Hilda Cieluszek
Karl Cieluszek
Mauro Cinquetti (1949)
Paul Citroen (1896-1983)
Bob Carlos Clarke (1950-2006)
Lucien Clergue (1934)
Mario Cresci (1942)
Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976)
Judy Dater (1941)
Mario De Biasi (1923)
Patrick Demarchelier (1944)
Raymond Depardon (1942)
Robert Doisneau (1912-1994)
Mario Dondero (1929)
Pietro Donzelli (1915-1998)
Max Dupain (1911-1992)
William Eggleston (1939)
Siegfried Enkelmann (1905-1978)
Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Frederick Henry Evans (1853-1943)
John Everard
Andreas Feininger (1906-1999)
Lux Feininger (1910)
Larry Fink (1941)
Franco Fontana (1933)
Joan Fontcuberta (1955)
Vittore Fossati (1954)
Robert Frank (1924)
Lee Friedlander (1934)
Flor Garduńo (1957)
Caio Garruba (1923)
Giovanni Gastel (1955)
Luigi Ghirri (1943-1992)
Mario Giacomelli (1925-2000)
Ralph Gibson (1939)
Paolo Gioli (1942)
Nan Goldin (1953)
Emmet Gowin (1941)
Milton Greene (1922-1985)
Franco Grignani (1908-1999)
Jan Groover (1943)
Ernst Haas (1921-1986)
Heinz Hajek-Halke (1898-1983)
Philippe Halsman (1906-1979)
Robert S. Harrah
Sam Haskins (1926)
Florence Henri (1893-1982)
Horst P. Horst (Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann) (1906-1999)
Frank Horvat (1928)
Eikoh Hosoe (1933)
Georges Hurrell (1904-1992)
Lotte Johanna Jacobi (1896-1990)
Mimmo Jodice (1934)
Alfred Cheney Johnston (1885-1971)
Colleen F. Kenyon (1951)
André Kertész (1894-1985)
Willy Kessels (1889-1974)
Edmund Kesting (1892-1970)
William Klein (1928)
Fred G. Kort (1902-1983)
Leslie Robert Krims (1943)
Karl Lagerfeld (1933)
Jacques-Henri Lartigue (1894-1986)
Franz Lazi (1922-1998)
Jorge Lewinsky (1921-2008)
Herbert List (1903-1975)
Heinz Loew (1903-1981)
Elio Luxardo (1908-1969)
Man Ray (Emmanuel Rudnitsky) (1890-1976)
Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989)
Fosco Maraini (1912-2004)
Linda Mc Cartney (1941-1998)
Don McCullin (1935)
Raymond Meier (1957)
Steven Meisel (1954)
Pietro Francesco Mele
Sheila Metzner (1939)
Joel Meyerowitz (1938)
Duane Michals (1932)
László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946)
Carlo Mollino (1905-1973)
Barbara Morgan (1900-1992)
Ugo Mulas (1928-1973)
Arnold Newman (1918-2006)
Helmut Newton (1920-2004)
Arrigo Orsi (1897-1967)
Paul Outerbridge (1896-1958)
Norman Parkinson (1913-1990)
Giulio Parmiani (1918-1960)
Lionel Pasquon (1947)
Federico Patellani (1911-1977)
Irving Penn (1917)
John Pfahl (1939)
James Pickerell
Pierluigi (Pierluigi Praturlon) (1924-1999)
Edward Quigley (1898-1977)
Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)
Albert Renger-Patzsch (1897-1966)
Emery Reves-Biro (1895-1975)
Bettina Rheims (1952)
Hans Richter (1888-1976)
Herb Ritts (1952-2002)
Aleksandr Rodchenko (1891-1956)
Fulvio Roiter (1926)
Arthur Rothstein (1915-1985)
Franco Rubartelli (1937)
Thomas Ruff (1958)
Xanti (Alexander) Schawinsky (1904-1979)
Herbert Schürmann (1908-1982)
Ferdinando Scianna (1943)
Tazio Secchiaroli (1925-1998)
Ettore Secco d‘Aragona
Andrés Serrano (1950)
Cindy Sherman (1954)
Kishin Shinoyama (1940)
Jeanloup Sieff (1933-2000)
Aaron Siskind (1903-1991)
Keith Smith (1938)
Eugene William Smith (1918-1978)
Anton Stankowski (1906-1998)
Edward Steichen (1879-1973)
Otto Steinert (1915-1978)
Bert Stern (1929)
Karl Straub (1900-?)
Thomas Struth (1954)
Oliviero Toscani (1942)
Max Vadukul (1961)
Federico Vender (1901-1999)
Luigi Veronesi (1908-1998)
Roman Vishniac (1897-1990)
Wilhelm Von Gloeden (1856-1931)
Chris Von Wagenheim (1941-1982)
Weegee (Arthur Felling) (1899-1968)
Brett Weston (1911-1993)
Edward Weston (1886-1958)
Minor White (1908-1976)
Garry Winogrand (1928-1984)
Francesca Woodman (1958-1981)
Steef Zoetmulder (1911) 



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