Luigi Ghirri #MAXXIRome

Luigi Ghirri. Thinking through images
Icons Landscapes Architectures
24 April – 27 October 2013

Luigi Ghirri
From 24 April to 27 October 2013 MAXXI is dedicating a major anthological exhibition to one of the undisputed masters of Italian photography: Luigi Ghirri (1943-1992). Born out of the collaboration between the municipality of Reggio Emilia and the Biblioteca Panizzi, which conserves many of the original documents (photographs, galley proofs, books, catalogues and negatives) in its archive, the exhibition Luigi Ghirri. Thinking through images recounts the multiple aspects of this complex artist.

An exploration of the work of the Modenese photographer through over 300 shots, above all vintage prints, but also galley proofs for catalogues, books from his private library, magazines, reviews, collections of anonymous photographs, postcards and records, recounting his collaboration with the conceptual artists of the 1970s, his cultural and artistic references, his interest in music and his relationships with musicians such as the CCCP and Lucio Dalla. A Ghirri not solely photographer, but also publisher, curator, theorist and cultural promoter, in constant dialogues with architects, musicians, writers and artists.

The exhibition is organized in three thematic sections – Icons, Landscapes, Architectures – and invites visitors to traces the phases in Ghirri’s artistic history: everyday icons, landscapes as places of attention and affection and the architectures, from the anonymous to those of quality. The vintage prints, conserved at the Fototeca Panizzi, MAXXI, CSAC in Parma, the National Institute of Graphic Arts in Rome, the Archive of the Ghirri Heirs and other private collections, constitute the central nucleus of the exhibition. They are flanked by a restricted selection of previously unseen new prints (from negatives held by the Fototeca Panizzi) that offer a further means of studying and understanding his research. The exhibition route will be marked by citations taken from Ghirri’s text, chosen so as to reveal the quality of his writing and help the public to comprehend the artist’s research through his own words.

The decision to configure the show thematically rather than chronologically reprises a typically Ghirri-esque modus operandi: photography understood as an unfinished object, as a gigantic work in progress and constant evolution. The publications and the exhibitions Ghirri realised during the course of his life frequently contained a vast number of photographs; he organized this body of images in “series”, frequently revising it, modifying the sequences, using photographs created for a project within new contexts, maybe years after the event. The thematic configuration is therefore intended to shed light on the way Ghirri himself worked, underlining not only his specific photographic technique, but also the way in which he looked at, chose, presented and ordered the photographs, in search of a new critical approach to thinking about images, to thinking through images.

Luigi Ghirri is a fundamental figure in the photography of the second half of the 20th Century. He had a profound effect on international visual culture, thanks to his successful establishment of a new understanding of the photographic work through the redefinition of the very genres of photography.
His landscapes, the images of the ordinary, the master buildings and the anonymous architecture, are today evidence that his importance far outstrips his fame. The exhibition reveals the “reasons” for this importance: from the encounter with the artistic avant-garde of the 1970s to the precocious and original use of colour film, through to the identification of a lyrical personal vision after which photography has never been the same.

The exhibition will move from MAXXI to other museums including, in the May of 2014, the prestigious Chiostri di San Pietro in Reggio Emilia during the European Festival of Photography.