Luigi Ghirri (1943 – 1992) was an Italian photographer who, beginning in the 1970s, produced pioneering color photographs of landscape and architecture within the milieu of conceptual art. Ghirri’s photographs are presented with a deadpan, often ironic wit and always consider the tenuous balance between people and their surroundings. He worked in series, photographing parks, beaches, and urban scenes of his native Italy, producing modestly sized, meticulously made prints. His use of color has been lauded for its capacity to express “both prescience and nostalgia” in its distinct encapsulation of the first wave of color photography.
Artist: Matthew Marks Gallery // Archivio Luigi Ghirri
While in Kodachrome the protagonist was the photographic image itself, in Colazione sull’Erba the mythical image of nature and home takes center stage. Hence, Colazione sull’Erba does not set out to be merely a study of suburban green areas, but also ventures to be a moment of analysis and reflection. In this series of photographs, I sought to offer an existential portrait, as well as a series of references to the natural world, to home and its contemporary inhabitants.
He began to map out projects and themes – some specifically grouped around a subject, others gathered around a more poetic organising principle. One of the latter was Colazione sull’Erba (Breakfast on the Grass) in which he bought together photographs made between 1972 and 1974 on the outskirts of Modena which he states he “visited in an ironic and anxious manner”. His focus was the juncture of nature and artifice in the man-made environment; the symmetries of cypress trees, well-kept lawns, the personalising touch of plants in pots, palm trees and cacti with their promise of somewhere else.
Video: Luigi Ghirri au Jeu de Paume Concorde – Paris (Vimeo)
Luigi Ghirri: Thought Landscape (Silvana, 2016)