Luigi Ghirri

Born in 1943 in Scandiano (IT)
Died in 1992 in Roncocesi (IT)


Colour photograph, gelatin-silver print
20 x 26 cm
Year of Purchase: 1985

In the early 1970s, being a photographer was tantamount to taking black and white photos, rejecting colour deemed vulgar, because colour was too bound up with advertising and amateur snapshots. Luigi Ghirri was one of the first to reject this diktat, and assert that the world’s complexity can only be perceived if colour is used. Reckoning that the first photograph of planet earth taken by an American astronaut is ‘the’ original photograph, given that it contains, germ-like, ‘all the images of the world’, Ghirri would thenceforth pursue a line of inventorial work deliberately oriented towards the Italian landscape. ‘I’m not trying to make photographs, but geographical maps and navigational charts, which are at the same time photographs’. In the 1980s, colour enabled him record many different versions of a vernacular culture. This, needless to add, implies encompassing the popular dimension of this culture, by revealing the customs and object which form it. This is the case, in particular, with the series in the possession of the Frac, in which he has fun creating an endless repetition – a mise en abyme – of the photographic representation by singling out painted landscape motifs – motifs which disconcert because they operate on an essentially popular history of representation. Through this work, he challenges not only the status of the photograph, but also the normalization of the signs in any culture.

Damien Sausset