His background as a surveyor is not foreign to his sense’s methodical approach to framing. Luigi Ghirri (1943-1992) is an aesthetic of the ordinary. An observer gifted to capture the world around them with a sharp eye and caring. Born near Reggio Emilia, Ghirri’s never really far from his province. When he begins seriously to photography in 1970, he worked in Modena and its surroundings. Houses and gardens of the suburbs, of the advertising image, modern, posters torn or glued on walls of bricks, not-of-door simple, blinds, cranes, strung together in an abstract composition.
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Modena is also the birthplace of the Ferrari. Filled mini-pumps with the effigy of the prancing horse red. Pride of the region. Through his lens, the daily life takes on a new dimension. As others have done, in their way, the United States – William Eggleston in Memphis, Robert Frank in New York, or Vivian Meier, Chicago -, Luigi Ghirri captures moments familiar in the modern life of the 1970’s, which see it transform the beaches of Rimini and Ortobello, in Tuscany, in holiday resorts popular.
Photographs of dos
But Ghirri never shows the crowd. He does photo montages with fake backdrops of snow-covered mountain in a theme park in the middle of summer . It is in 1977, the color film is in full swing. According to James Lingwood, the commissioner of Maps and territories – first solo exhibition in France of Ghirri – “it is one of the first photographers in Europe to use color in a purely artistic search”. With Ghirri, we made trips still delicious. It escapes through postcards of the setting sun, glued one against the other. His imagination vagabond has no need to cross the oceans. Also, the first time he went to New York and Boston, he was already 43 years old.
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When he left Modena, it goes up to The Ile-Rousse, in Corsica, in Paris or Salzburg, where the snow-capped peaks appear on a geographical map of paper observed by tourists who turn back. The few characters that appear in the medium format of Ghirri are almost exclusively from the back. “I have photographed many people from the back, looking at images, city maps of the routes; because I wanted to […] give them an infinite number of possible identities: on mine, while I photograph, to that of the observer”, wrote Luigi Ghirri. Italy provincial he says, by its authenticity, transporting us still forty years later. While in the current political context, the Italian dream would tend to vanish.
Luigi Ghirri. Maps and Territories , Jeu de paume, 1, pl de la Concorde (Viii). Tel.: 01 47 03 12 50. Schedules: of the sea. the dim. from 11 h to 19 h, mar. up to 21 h. Until au2 June. Cat.: Ed. Jeu de Paume/Mack, 45 €.