Claude Nori, a longtime friend of Luigi Ghirri and who published all his books in France, draws a lively, intimate, free and very moving portrait of this great photographer through their travels, their exchanges on technique and prints, their discussions on neorealist cinema, the great currents and works that marked the history of photography. Composed in chapters that are all small anecdotes of shared moments, the book recreates the atmosphere of these years of rupture and renewal to understand the thought and work of Ghirri: the design of the book Kodachrome, the conference at the Sorbonne in 1985, Bob Dylan, Lucio Dalla, Walker Evans ... This portrait, unlike all theoretical clichés, reveals a Luigi Ghirri, funny, moving, who seemed to have found “an extraordinary balance between the malaise of existence and the well-being of the gaze”.
The book, published in coedition with Éditions Contrejour, is supplemented by interviews, plural interventions such as those of Jean-Claude Lemagny, Michel Nuridsany, texts by Luigi Ghirri and unpublished remembrance photos by Claude Nori. A selection of about sixtheen photographs by Luigi Ghirri accompanies this essay, allowing one to have a global and critical vision of his work.
(Toulouse, 1949) Born to Italian migrant parents, he discovered photography during the May ’68 events at a time when he thought he would become a director, having studied at the Conservatoire Indépendant du Cinéma Français in Paris. He soon understands the expressive potential of photography and, above all, the freedom and lightness of travelling to discover others, the world and oneself. In 1974 he moved to Paris and became friends with photographer Bernard Plossu, with whom he founded, together with a group of agitators, photographers and critics, Contrejour, newspaper, publishing house and gallery in Montparnasse, which soon became the place of encounters and promotion of the new photography movement. In 1976 he published his first photographic book, Lunettes, with a preface by Agnés Varda, followed by a novel published by Le Seuil dedicated to the Italian-American photographer Donna Ferrato, two films and numerous books in which he pursues photographic research on flirting and the themes of adolescence, Italy and happiness. In 1984 he was the only French photographer to have participated, in company of Mimmo Jodice, Gabriele Basilico, Olivo Barbieri, Mario Cresci, among others, to Luigi Ghirri's visionary project Viaggio in Italia. In 1999, with his wife Isabelle Nori, he moved to Biarritz where he founded Terre d'Images Festival, the Photo Nouvellese magazine and continues to produce books with Éditions Contrejour. In 2018 he published Un’estate con te (Contrejour, Postcart Editions). He is represented by the Polka Gallery in Paris, where he exhibits in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
(Scandiano, 1943) Ghirri began taking pictures in 1969, collaborating with conceptual artists. Throughout the seventies he proceeds by composing evocative series on the various themes: natural and artificial image, the ambiguity of contemporary landscape, the quotation of history, the imagery of consumption. In those years he comes into contact with Massimo Mussini and Arturo Carlo Quintavalle, and begin a fruitful collaboration with the CSAC - which now preserves the largest collection of his vintage-prints - to which he periodically gives updates of his work, and with whom he also collaborates as a member of the scientific committee of the Photography Section, suggesting and indicating historical materials to be acquired. He continues his research oriented to landscape and architecture (prompted by Aldo Rossi), collaborates and makes friends with writers and musicians (including Gianni Celati, Ermanno Cavazzoni, Antonio Tabucchi, Lucio Dalla) and organizes highly original collective enterprises, involving other photographers active on the same themes of description of the Italian landscape, including Viaggio in Italia (1984) and Esplorazioni sulla Via Emilia (1986). The project Viaggio in Italia in particular, conceived by Ghirri and curated together with Gianni Leone and Enzo Velati, is a milestone for Italian photography, constituting an unofficial manifesto of the Italian landscape school born in those years. The book (Luigi Ghirri, Gianni Leone, Enzo Velati, edited by, Viaggio in Italia - Il Quadrante, Alessandria 1984) and the traveling exhibition collect images of many Italian and, to a minor extent, foreigner photographers, such as Olivo Barbieri, Gabriele Basilico, Giannantonio Battistella, Vincenzo Castella, Andrea Cavazzuti, Giovanni Chiaramonte, Mario Cresci, Vittore Fossati, Carlo Garzia, Guido Guidi, Luigi Ghirri, Shelley Hill, Mimmo Jodice, Gianni Leone, Claude Nori, Umberto Sartorello, Mario Tinelli, Ernesto Tuliozi, Fulvio Ventura, Cuchi White. From 1983 to 1985 he held courses on history of photography at the Institute of Art History of the University of Parma. His landscapes are suspended, unrealistic, in some ways metaphysical, often devoid of human figures but never devoid of human intervention on the landscape. The use of delicate and unsaturated colors is fundamental in his poetics and comes from the close collaboration with his printer Arrigo Ghi. The shots of painter Giorgio Morandi in the Bolognese studio in via Fondazza are noteworthy. He's the author of numerous album covers for RCA, both of classical music and of Italian artists such as Lucio Dalla, Gianni Morandi, Luca Carboni, CCCP Fedeli alla linea (Epica Etica Etnica Pathos), Stadio, Ciao Fellini, Robert & Cara and others. He suddenly passed away due to a heart attack in 1992, at the age of 49. As Massimo Mussini defined him, he was certainly one of the greatest and most influential Italian photographers of the twentieth century.
Mary Ellen Mark