Gianni Berengo Gardin

The Telegraph calls him “Italy’s Greatest Photographer.”  Who knew?  Certainly not me, before I entered the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome.  I chose  to visit the exhibit because the advertising was appealing (!) and the venue was close by.  It’s amusing to admit that no previous knowledge nor research went into my decision.

I was immediately in thrall to the images presented.  Berengo Gardin’s work is gorgeous:  beautifully structured, full of surprises, layered with meaning.  His photographs are compassionate, but not  maudlin.  Honest and beautiful are apt descriptors.

Gianni Berengo Gardin has lived most of his life in Milan, but considered Venice his hometown.  He is self-taught, and began taking photographs in the 1950’s.  The exhibition, Vera Fotografia, (True Photography)  is a chronological retrospective of his work. It begins with his evocative shots of Venice, and highlights the major projects in his career, as he documented industries in Italy (Olivetti, Fiat, Alfa Romeo), worked with the architect and engineer Renzo Piano, and chronicled the lives of ordinary and sometimes marginalized people. The exhibition ends with his unsettling images of contemporary Venice.


Gianni Berengo Gardin

Click here to see the image Berengo Gardin feels is his “best shot.” ( Keep in mind that he has published 250 books during his lifetime, and has worked continuously since the middle of the last century!)

The images I am ‘grabbing’ from the internet do not do justice to the works.  (I wasnt allowed to ‘grab’ images in the exhibition.)  Click on these articles from The Daily Mail and The Independent and the interview in The Telegraph for some decent reproductions.

In addition to the stark beauty of the black and white images, several other artists, photographers, architects, etc. were asked to choose a favourite Berengo Gardin image, and comment on it…..fortunately, the commentaries were translated to English. The choices, as well as  the comments were interesting;  the salon-like effect of ‘discussing’ an artist and his work was engaging, and added to my appreciation of the photographs.

All of Berengo Gardin’s certified photographs have Vera Fotografia (True Photograph) printed on the backs. I can’t think of a better phrase to summarize his work.




6 thoughts on “Gianni Berengo Gardin

  1. Scott

    It’s always quite magical when you cross paths with some wonderful that you had no idea was out there. And kind of a “duh”, travel does expand your world.

    1. terryvatrt

      Tis true! In the studio, we look forward to those ‘happy accidents’ too….unintentionally creating something interesting/pleasing/satisfying.

  2. Ruth Asher

    I must explore more of his images, esp. the humans. Thank you for including him in the caravan, You broaden my knowledge and tweak my curiosity. Regularly.

  3. terryvatrt

    He is quite famous in Italy for his work in the Italian asylums, and the book Morire di classe. He said, “I never photographed the illness but the conditions of violence that denied the sufferer all dignity.” When talking about his work in the factories, he said, “Even in industrial photos, I never photographed the finished products but rather the assembly lines, the stories of those workers, the lives of people and their territory.”
    Thank you for your thoughtful reading.

  4. Dorothy Moleski

    Thank you. I have forwarded to Joy Davis and you will have a new follower.

    You missed a nice day & lunch at Butcharts! Next visit: September,

    Happy Canada Day!




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