RELEASE: ITALIAN FOCUS - Masterworks of Italian Photography 1945-1975 from the Collection of Paolo Morello

Christie’s is proud to present Masterworks of Italian Photography 1945-1975 from the Collection of Paolo Morello, which will be offered for sale for the first time on June 12th at Christie’s South Kensington.

Christie’s is proud to present Masterworks of Italian Photography 1945-1975 from the Collection of Paolo Morello, an outstanding group of 150 rare vintage prints which will be offered for sale for the first time on June 12th at Christie’s South Kensington.

Professor Morello, Italy’s most prominent historian and patron of Italian photography, gathered these iconic images over the course of fifteen years for the purpose of his own professional research, carefully selecting a variety of subject matter, including some of the most glamorous celebrities such as Sophia Loren, Jacqueline Bisset, Alfred Hitchcock and Marcello Mastroianni. A rare and fascinating group of prints, each in perfect condition and carrying an impeccable provenance, these beautiful works represent a little-known chapter in the history of the greatest photography of the 20th century. The photographs in the collection depict Italian life and culture through bold use of line, tone, and composition. Constituting an inspiring journey throughout the aesthetics of the mid - 20th century, the collection of Paolo Morello is a reminder of how rich and multi-faceted the history of photography really is and of how much there always remains to learn. The international market might be unfamiliar with most of the artists featured in the collection, yet each of these works is an individual masterpiece. With a level of image and print quality that is equal to or surpasses the work by many of the more celebrated names of their time, this is a wonderful opportunity to purchase unrepeatable gems at incredibly accessible prices (estimates range from £2,000 to £30,000).

Philippe Garner, Christie’s International Head of Photographs:Christie’s is privileged to present a catalogue of the most emblematic treasures from the Morello collection, which will put the spotlight on the vitality and creativity of Italian photography in the period 1945-1975, while celebrating a distinguished and fertile chapter in the medium’s history.  Against a backdrop of great art, architecture, design, and film, it is entirely logical that the art of photography should also flourish.  It is quite unjust, however, that these high Italian achievements in this medium should still be so little recognized, as their strong formal values and singularity have the power to engage profoundly. The play of tone, contrast and structure of so many of these photographs is radical, authoritative and sophisticated, the equal of the avant-garde of any nation; and the subject matter, be it landscape, urban or rural, or figurative, touches us with the poetic character of its interpretation.

Professor Paolo Morello, collector and scholar: My ambition was to establish a conversation between Italian photography and the history of art, more generally. The photographs I have chosen are to be considered as the products of a complex series of interactions: between their author’s expressive intentions and ideological concerns, audiences’ expectations, the demands of the clients - magazine directors, for example, technological opportunities, and finally the continuous exchange with other media, such as literature or film.

Masterworks of Italian Photography 1945-1975 from the Collection of Paolo Morello  
Christie's South Kensington
12 June 2012 

The majority of the photographers represented within the Collection of Paolo Morello were drawn to the medium by their passion for Italian culture. In fact, their vision was expressed with true creative independence, as they were not limited by the specific demands of commerce or of the media. There were at that time no formal schools of photography in Italy but there was an important network of photo-clubs and it was through the opportunities created by such clubs to exchange ideas and refine skills that a talented generation of practitioners emerged.
These include Gianni Berengo Gardin, Paolo Bocci, Piergiorgio Branzi, Carla Cerati, Francesco Carlo Crispolti, Mario De Biasi, Ferruccio Ferroni, Mario Giacomelli, Mario Lasalandra, Giorgio Lotti, Paolo Monti, Federico Patellani, Vittorio Piergiovanni, Franco Pinna, Tazio Secchiaroli and Enzo Sellerio.

Gianni Berengo Gardin (b. 1930)

Berengo Gardin is most recognised for capturing simple yet haunting images. Having started his career as a photojournalist, he is at ease when reporting social, cultural and political everyday life. Today his works are seen as having a testimonial quality unseen in other photographs taken during that time.  Berengo Gardin has published 210 photographic books and has been exhibited extensively in Rome, Paris, Switzerland and New York.

Mario De Biasi (b. 1923)
De Biasi worked in Milan as a photojournalist. His sharp and versatile images allowed him to travel all over the world. He photographed a huge range of subjects and is celebrated for shots of newsworthy situations to Hollywood starlets. De Biasi developed a clear and determined eye - his precise framing gave even the simplest of everyday objects and scenes a significance, which resonates to this day.

Piergiorgio Branzi (b. 1928)
Branzi began his photographic studies in the formal figurative tradition but soon moved to a more ‘snap-shot’ approach, often catching his subjects by surprise. Despite this lack of warning, his images maintain a harmonious balance of shock and vivid lyricism. His Travelogues were praised especially, which took him all across his native Italy and into Spain. With these he aimed to capture the sites and people along the way. Branzi also worked as a news correspondent in Moscow and Paris before returning to Rome to work with Television.

Carla Cerati (b. 1926)
Having studied the Nude at the Academy di Brera in the early 40s, Cerati later became a writer and a photographer. Author of many novels, it is through the Einaudi publishing company that she was able to meet and collaborate with Gianni Berengo Gardin, with whom she produced Morire di classe. Inspired by great photographers such as Richard Avedon ad Bill Brandt, it is no surprise that Cerati grew a fascination for nudes and the woman form, leading her to create some of the most distorted, yet luscious and sensual nude masterpieces. Her works are a wonderful expression of a woman’s view on the female body. 

Ferruccio Ferroni (1920 – 2007)
Along with many other young photographers of the time, Ferroni was captivated by a new way of representing reality and the notions of giving birth to a new concept of modern Italian art. Prior to pursuing photography, Ferroni graduated with a law degree and practiced periodically throughout his life. Ferroni won many awards for his photographs and was a member of influential photographic society’s such as ‘La Gondola’ in Venice and ‘Misa’ in Senigallia.

Mario Giacomelli (1925-2000)Originally a painter, Mario Giacomelli found the immediacy of photography appealing shortly after the war. His first body of work – Paesaggio – explored the landscapes which he had once been so fond of painting. This was followed by several other projects including a commission by the local Catholic Seminary to document the life of its young priests in 1962. Giacomelli found this task quite tedious until one snowy afternoon brought about a playful atmosphere which produced his iconic images. Giacomelli was driven by his commitment to his Italian culture and to create a unique artistic statement. As a result he has become one of the most influential Italian photographers of his generation.

Tazio Secchiaroli (1925-1998)

Secchiaroli is best known for his role in the development of the paparazzi style of photography and in 1955 founded the Roma Press Photo agency. Given this relationship with famous individuals, a majority of Secchiaroli’s work features actresses of the likes of Sophia Loren and Jacqueline Bisset but another facet to his work exists – a compassionate interaction with the world around him. Still working from a reportage origin these images capture a less glamorous side of Roman life but add testimony to Secchiaroli’s masterful skill with the camera.

Photographic historian, photographer, and publisher, Paolo Morello studied at the Scuola Normale in Pisa and St John’s College in Oxford, before teaching Photography and History of Photography at the universities of Palermo, Bologna, Brescia, Verona, at the Università Ca’ Foscari in Venice, at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, and from 2001 through to 2009 at the Università iuav in Venice. At the Università Cattolica in Milan, he founded and directed the two-year Master’s course in Photography. From 2001 through to 2010 he was contributing editor of the magazine ‘History of Photography’, and from 1999 through to 2011 he directed the Istituto Superiore per la Storia della Fotografia. He is the author of many seminal works on the history of photography in Italy, among them: ‘Guida Pratica al Mercato Della Fotografia’ (A Practical Handbook to the Photography Market, 2008), and the ground-breaking twin-volume study ‘La fotografia in Italia’, (2010). Also a committed photographer, he has published ‘La pazienza del legno’ (2009), ‘Tu sei Quello’ (2011), and in Glint’s handmade catalogue, ‘In the Beginning’, ‘The Tale of the Ficus’, ‘Aphrodite’s Nostalgia’, ‘The Dream of the Ladder’, and ‘A Journey to Sicily’.

85 Old Brompton Road, London, SW7 3LD

12 June 2012 at 2pm

Friday 8 June                    9am – 5pm
Saturday 9 June                11am – 5pm
Sunday 10 June                  11am – 5pm
Monday 11 June                  9am – 7pm
Tuesday 12 June                9am – 12pm

Images available on request

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*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium.

Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and do not reflect costs, financing fees or application of buyer’s or seller’s credits.



These include Gianni Berengo Gardin, Paolo

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