Vasco Ascolini

Vasco Ascolini: un’autobiografia per immagini | An autobiography of imagery

Curated by Massimo Mussini
Coordination: Monica Leoni and Elisabeth Sciarretta

“…In my mind, I had already turned everything into photography. […] Having crossed a piece of history and, in a single shot, having fixed it beyond time. To this day, this is what continues to give me an incredible thrill.”

During this edition of Fotografia Europea, the Panizzi Library will host an exhibition devoted to the Reggio Emilia photographer Vasco Ascolini. The aim is to make the public aware of the photographer’s donation to the city: a collection of around 500 printed photographs in various formats, which – together with those already catalogued in archives of the Photo Library – trace a ‘biography through imagery’ of Ascolini’s artistic career. As we know, his shots have covered at least 40 years of the history of photography, and he has worked in various countries, from Italy to France, via the United States, Austria, Germany and Belgium.

The autobiography is considered a literary genre in which the author tells his/her story in order to achieve various goals, and which has a very long history to it, almost as long as the invention of writing itself. A few years ago, Vasco Ascolini decided to add to his vast photographic production a short unpublished autobiography in which, rather than reconstructing his life experiences, he would speak of his encounters with critics and scholars who had analysed his work. A sort of travel diary in which he jotted down the moments he considered important for his intellectual and artistic growth.

The work that Ascolini presents with this donation to his city, as with the previous ones, reveals an evolutionary continuum that allows us to follow his footsteps over time, highlighting the moments of passage with which he progressively enriched his expressive language. This exhibition is the story of that courageous journey, connoted by key encounters and great determination.

Vasco Ascolini (Reggio Emilia, 1937), after an amateur approach to photography, began working with Stanislao Farri – his first teacher – around 1965. From 1973 to 1990, he was the photographer for the Valli Municipal Theatre in Reggio Emilia: his photographs of theatrical genres are now to be found in many prestigious museums in Europe, America and Japan.


Ascolini insisted on his characteristic ‘black hallmark’ and the poetics of the fragment even when, from the second half of the 1980s, he received numerous public commissions to photograph monuments, museums and historic centres in Italy and France. It was precisely the assignment to photograph Arles that led him to the Rencontres internationales de la photographie in 1991, affording him international visibility and marking the start of a deep bond with France and its leading museums.


He has never abandoned his passion for research, and in the new millennium – thanks also to his off-camera interventions during the printing phase – he strove “to create shapeless appearances, with the gesture guided by unconscious automatism or oneiric visions of a certain surrealist painting” (M. Mussini). He continues to stage solo and group exhibitions to this day.


H 10.30

Biblioteca Panizzi



with the curator Massimo Mussini


Biblioteca Panizzi
Via Luigi Carlo Farini, 3
Reggio Emilia



opening days
29th of April › 19-20
30th of April › 9-20
1st of May › 10-20

from 2th of May to 17th of September
during library opening hours

Biblioteca Panizzi