The Chromatic World of Luigi Ghirri

Prior to Instagram and its tailor-made filters made to mimic the inimitable Eastman Kodak’s Kodachrome film, there was William Eggleston and Luigi Ghirri.

Photo Courtesy @MatthewMarksGallery Photo Courtesy @MatthewMarksGallery

Ghirri, born in Scandiano in the northeast of Italy, was the European equivalent to the renowned Eggleston, who like Ghirri, was considered a pioneer of the first wave of colour photography within the field of conceptual art. Ghirri was a prominent voice in native Italy, lauded for the ability to express “prescience and nostalgia”,his photographs depicting native landscapes and architecture in primary capacity.. The incorporation of Ghirri’s ironic wit and deadpan humour results in a visually explorative trip of the tenuous relationships between people and their surroundings, his eye for acutely sharp compositions rendering geometric precision to man-made scenery.

“his work was also imbued with a relevance and significance far beyond the supposed simplicity of a landscape or the detail of a tree.”

The warmth that radiates through Ghirri’ s work may be attributed to his consideration of photographs as “a tangle of monuments, lights, thoughts, objects, moments, analogies from our landscape of the mind, which we seek out, even unconsciously, every time we look out a window, into the openness of the outside world, as if they were the points of an imaginary compass that indicates a possible direction”. A highly influential member of Italy’s conceptual art milieu, Ghirri’s work is prescient in its scrutiny of the ’analogy of reality’. This challenges the viewer to contemplate and distinguish the precise nature of a subject and the depicted image of the subject, and thus imposes a certain visual reflection upon the audience. Francesco Zanot, a photography critic, noted in the re-edition of Ghirri’ s self-published book Kodachrome by MACK Books :“His works are powerful devices for the re-education of the gaze. Ghirri’ s Kodachrome can be considered as a manifesto for photography, according to the MACK Book founder Michael Mack “Not only did he (Ghirri) have an extraordinary capacity for making simple-looking images that were incredible in their intensity. When you start understanding his relationship to his locality and what he was saying about the medium of photography, you see that his work was also imbued with a relevance and significance far beyond the supposed simplicity of a landscape or the detail of a tree.”

Photo Courtesy @MatthewMarksGallery

The scarce amount of attention Ghirri’s work garnered prior to his untimely death in 1992 is mostly attributed to the chromatic richness of his work,  considered quite unusual in the early 70’s.While Mr.Ghirri’s work has been extensively exhibited during the course of his life, his photographs gained the biggest momentum after his death in 1992. Luigi Ghirri’s work has since been exhibited at 2011 Venice Biennale and in 2012 the exhibition Project Prints was held at the Castello di Rivoli in Turin. The largest exhibition of Ghirri’s oeuvre was held in April 2013 at the MAXXI Museum in Rome. His photographs were also exhibited Venice Biennale the same year

r. Luigi Ghirri: The Complete Essays 1973-1991 was published by MACK in June 2016