2002. "The bycicle. A group exhibition of 20th century Italian photographs". Keith De Lell
Riccardo Moncalvo, Asfalto, Paris 1947
The bycicle. 20th century italian photographs.
A group exhibition. June 13 - August 16, 2002
The bicycle in Italian life and culture is a familiar and prolific symbol reflected in the many photographs made before, during and after World War II. Its distinct presence reminds us of how reliant the Italians were on this basic means of transport. To some it represented a symbol of hope in war torn Italy; to other poor Italians, it was a basic means of survival.
Vittorio DeSica, the great postwar Italian filmmaker, made the bicycle an iconic cultural symbol when he directed his 1948 neo-realist masterpiece, “Bicycle Thief”, using the bicycle as a metaphoric symbol of hope, desperation and redemption. In a neo-realist photograph made in 1954 by Stanislao Farri, the photographer captures the poetry of everyday life in an image that depicts a pair of grown men with a bicycle, stealing a peak through the cracks in a wooden door. In another starkly lit image by photojournalist Federico Garolla, a pair of local fisherman with their bicycle could almost be a still from one of the classic films of the same era.
In works from the 1940’s and 1950’s, Luciano de Stasio, Mario Righetti and Carlo Caligaris compose three very different styles of photography to depict the sport of bicycle racing. The bicycle helped restore the spirit of a war-ravaged nation when an Italian cyclist won the Tour de France in the 1950’s. The entire nation was glued to their radios as Fausto Coppi competed and captured the hearts of the Italians restoring the public's badly shaken spirit of nationalism.
An image by Vittorio Ronconi is an example of the photographer’s artistic experiments and research in scale and modern design. This, often exhibited, 1955 image shows the dramatic contrast between the symmetry of a modern architectural façade and the small figure of a child and his bicycle.
In Gianni Della Valle’s pictures of Milan, the streets of Italy were a non-stop daily parade of cinematic moments. As one of Milan’s young influential photographers in the 1950’s, he captures the drama and romance of a rainy day in his image of two bicyclists under umbrellas pedaling along the wet cobblestone streets.
Snow scenes of Milan and Bergamo, by Mario Perrotti in the 1940’s and Nando Barlassina in the 1950’s, are captivating examples of the beauty of inclement weather. In these graphic images, man, machine and nature conspire to create lasting depictions of powerful esthetic beauty.
Riccardo Moncalvo was an early modernist whose forward thinking images in the 1930’s and 1940’s helped redefine the prevailing outdated pictorial style. In his clever and unconventional aerial shot from 1947 “Asfalto”, a bicycle cuts across the diagonal corner of the picture frame, as if it is about to disappear off the edge of the photograph.
The bicycle appears repeatedly in the social documentary, photojournalism and in the skillful pictures of several generations of dedicated members of Italy’s passionate groups of photo amateurs. This exhibition features the work of more than 20 artists whose pictures define the world as it looked and felt through the eyes of some of Italy’s great photographers of the mid-twentieth century. Included in the exhibition are Antonio Amaduzzi, Placido Barbieri, Nando Barlassina, Gios Bernardi, Carlo Caligaris, Augusto Cantamessa, Mario Carrieri, Luigi Cavagna, Carmen Crepaz, Ferruccio Crovatto, Luciano de Stasio, Gianni Della Valle, Stanislao Farri, Luigi Ferrigno, Mario Finocchiaro, Federico Garrolla, Gastone Lombardi, Nino Migliori, Ricardo Moncalvo, Mario Perotti, Mario Righetti, Stefano Robino, Vittorio Ronconi, Giovanni Rosa, Osvaldo Savoini, Tullio Tagliavini and Giovanni Vanoni.
The photographers on exhibition, all had a special talent for finding a dramatic moment and knowing how to frame it. Every image is a testament to their acute visual skills and the talent for producing memorable images inspired by the filmic qualities of daily life.