“I didn't want to create PHOTOGRAPHS, but MAPS, PLANS that at the same time were meant to be photographs.” (Luigi Ghirri)
Italian photographer Luigi Ghirri (1943–1992) ranks among the trailblazers of European colour photography. The exhibition at Museum Folkwang is the first extensive presentation of Ghirri’s oeuvre in a museum outside of his native Italy.
In his oeuvre, the artist, who had trained as a surveyor, focused on landscapes, still lives and architectural themes – mostly from his home region of Emilia Romagna. He addressed the relationship humans have with their natural and artificial surroundings with perspicacity and a hint of irony. He thus not only reflected the cultural changes of his day, but also the shifts in modes of depiction and representation that were part and parcel of these.
The exhibition looks at the phase when Ghirri was at his photographically most productive, the 1970s, and highlights his striving for a renewal in photography. The period exemplifies his exceptionally conceptual approach to the medium, while still allowing Ghirri the thinker and essayist to have a say.
Ghirri’s small sized photographs, for the most part printed on matt paper, often resemble film sequences and are characterized by subdued colours. Ghirri had an inimitable sense of colour, space and light, as well as an almost unprecedented knack of humorously visualizing the “commonplace” and making it accessible to a new level of perception.
Curated by James Lingwood, the exhibition at Museum Folkwang takes its cue from the large monographic show held in Parma in 1979 and arranged to specifications by Luigi Ghirri. Around 300 photographs, subdivided into 15 work groups, reveal the broad range of themes Ghirri addressed in the 1970s.
Exhibition organised by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, in collaboration with Museum Folkwang, Essen, and Jeu de Paume, Paris