Exhibition: United Artists of Italy, Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, London, June 22 – September 4 2011
© Sandro Becchetti
If you were seeking a champion for this generous display of portraits of some of the 20th century’s best-known artists, it’s hard to look beyond the man behind them.
“Italian photography presents itself here in all of its glory”, explains Massimo Minini, a contemporary art lover and occasional prehistoric archaeologist who has spent decades working with his subjects to assemble his formidable collection of works by 22 photographers.
“No other nation has produced such a wide range of great photographers who have not only portrayed but also worked on the same level as the artists of their generation.”
More than mere snapshots of genius, these are portraits alive with individual stories told from different angles in both literal and figurative terms.
Aurelio Amendola’s portrait of Giorgio de Chirico, the founder of the visionary, subconscious metaphysical art movement in Italy, shows an elderly and bemused figure.
Pino Pascali, who so loved to confuse the world with his uncanny recreations of weapons using found materials in the mid-20th century, is in playful mood in Claudio Abate’s image.
Minini wants them to stand as cross-sections of photography from the country during the period, as well as highlighting the “extraordinary capacity of interpretation” each storyteller possesses.
As he delved through the archives, Minini gradually broadened the project to include writers, foreign artists and high-profile gallery owners, shot in often-unconventional style.
“In their gaze, we discover an attempt to depict the different routes of creativity and the process of artistic creation,” concludes Massimiliano Finazzer Flory, of Milan’s Department of Culture.
“It tells the story of the vision and the philosophy of Italian contemporary art which began in the 1960s.”
- Open Wednesday-Saturday 11am-6pm (8pm Thursday, 12pm-5pm Sunday). Admission £5/£3.50 (free for schoolchildren and students).