Massimo Vitali

Massimo Vitali, Vulcano Mud Cettina, 2008 Courtesy Brancolini Grimaldi e Studio la Città

All together ..

curated by Laura Serani

times and locations

Chiostri di San Pietro
via Emilia San Pietro, 44/c
42121 Reggio Emilia

friday 11th may open from 6.30 pm to 12 pm; saturday 12th and sunday 13th may from 10 am to 12 pm; from 17th may to 24th june open on thursday and friday from 7 pm to 11 pm; saturday, sunday and national holidays from 10 am to 11 pm; closed on monday, tuesday and wednesday

Map

The exhibit was especially conceived by Massimo Vitali for Fotografia Europea and brings together for the first time in Reggio Emilia a series of works he produced starting from 2006. One of the most well-established Italian photographers on the international art scene, in the course of time Vitali has developed an unmistakable modus operandi and aesthetic approach which established his status definitively in 1998 with a presentation at Rencontres d’Arles, upon the initiative of Giovanna Calvenzi.

His immediately recognizable images of large beaches dotted with bathers, taken under a scorching sunlight that makes everything look slightly milky, are getting bigger and bigger. His latest ones, a record size of 240×310 cm, are a real technological feat. Vitali’s use of large format images is not so much a way of adapting to the demands of the art market – that has invented and imposed the concept – but to those of the very nature of his works and their ultimate goal.

In order to photograph the beaches, Vitali invented a kind of watch tower that enables him to have the bathers in front of him; a 5-metre high scaffolding system dug into the sea at 6 metres from the shoreline where he sits all day long waiting for the right light and the moment of respite when the micro-stories intertwining on the beach arrange themselves in front of his camera, framed within the space of the image. A systematic study lasting twenty years along the coastlines of Italy and elsewhere, in iconic locations, has enabled Vitali to put together a collection of images of places and situations providing a highly exhaustive portrait of mass tourism and of the idea of holiday in consumer society. The images are imposing and neutral when contemplated from a distance, but when we look closely at the details, drawn by their magnetic force, they seem to come to life.

Rather than landscapes, these are group portraits in context, where in a kind of sociology of the landscape against a backdrop of natural props, scenes of ordinary everyday life convey a cross section of social behaviour, rising to the status of paradigms. His work, whose nature is as creative as it is documentary, consists of images of clear beauty and pictorial inspiration that are the joy of collectors and achieve record sales every time. Behind an apparent neutrality, they conceal a reflection and a political message of which they are the product as well as the conveyor.

Laura Serani

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Biography

Massimo Vitali nasce a Como nel 1944.
Dopo il liceo si trasferisce a Londra dove studia Fotografia al London College of Printing. All’inizio degli anni Sessanta inizia a lavorare come fotogiornalista e collabora con diverse riviste e agenzie in Italia e in Europa. In questo periodo incontra Simon Guttmann, il fondatore dell’agenzia Report, una figura determinante per la crescita di Massimo come “fotografo impegnato”.
All’inizio degli anni ’80, la sfiducia nella capacità assoluta della fotografia di riprodurre le complessità della realtà determina un cambiamento nella sua carriera. Inizia a lavorare come cineoperatore per la televisione e il cinema. Tuttavia il suo rapporto con la macchina fotografica non finisce mai e alla fine si dedica alla “fotografia come mezzo di ricerca artistica”.
La serie di fotografie che ritraggono le spiagge italiane nasce a seguito dei cambiamenti politici avvenuti in Italia. Massimo inizia a osservare attentamente i propri connazionali. Ritrae una “visione sterilizzata e compiaciuta della normalità italiana” e al contempo rivela “le condizioni interne e i disturbi della normalità: l’inganno della chirurgia plastica, le allusioni sessuali, la mercificazione del piacere, la delusione dell’opulenza e un rigido conformismo”.
Negli ultimi 12 anni sviluppa un nuovo approccio nel ritrarre la realtà, spiegando l’apoteosi della massa, esprimendosi e commentando mediante la forma più intrigante e tangibile dell’arte contemporanea, la fotografia.
Nel 1995 comincia a fotografare le spiagge.
Vive e lavora a Lucca, Italia e a Berlino, Germania.