“An ordinary day” the new book by Umberto Verdoliva
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Price € 20,00 plus shipping
Format 22,5 x 21 cm – 107 pages – 88 pictures
Art direction staff: Fatima Abbadi, Ferdinando Fasolo, Giovanni Garbo, Giampaolo Romagnosi, Davide Scapin
First edition © Le Rondini
Signed by author – ISBN: 978-88-7743-409-8
Printed in Italy by EBS Verona
Text: Giampaolo Romagnosi – Translations: Frances Coburn
Foreword to the book :
In his well-known essay “Before Photography” of 1981, it was the scholar Peter Galassi who made the point that all the techniques of graphic representation were behind the invention of photography. Not only enlargements of details and vast landscapes (like those achievable by the photographer with a telephoto and wide-angle lens), but also panoramas and dioramas were all classified as faithful representations of reality before the advent of the camera.
Pictures derived from mathematical calculations to reconstruct an animal’s vision, or botanical drawings of plants and insects enlarged under the microscope (a good example is Robert Hooke’s “Micrographia” of 1665) were the object of study by an élite. The fundamental element that made photography unique right from the start, distinguishing it from the other systems of two-dimensional representation, was a question of TIME. The effect of the first very long exposures, and the innovative INSTANT concept that arrived later on paved the way to totally new visual solutions.
The first to realize that they could play with new possibilities in their iconographic production were the painters. Impressionists and Macchiaioli allowed themselves to be guided by the new photographic art through the construction of modern forms of communication. Paradoxically, photographers and common people saw these new images simply as errors, the offspring of an art form that was still young and in competition with classic figurative painting.
The experience of the Pictorialist photographic genre also failed in its artistic intent vis-à-vis painted works. It was years before those painters’ works and photographs imitating paintings came to be accepted, and years more before there was any talk of a photographic genre that perfectly incarnated the quintessence of photography, We all know that the early cameras could not record instantaneous images. But technical advances in the photographic procedures and radical improvements to the instrument – which became portable and available to anybody – gave rise to new photographic genres. The names attributed to the various genres derived directly from the use made of the images. They always tended to reiterate names and iconographic functions already existing in the world of painting: portraits, nudes, landscapes. When, in the early 20th century, a few photographers in journals and good-quality photography books. The street, with all its dynamism, was accurately depicted as it was happening.
Photographers of the caliber of André Kertész, Walker Evans, Henri Cartier Bresson, and many other great 20th-century photojournalists have produced wonderful photographs, but it would be wrong to identify them as street photographers. In a professional setting, many would reject this definition. It was only starting from the 1960s, when figures such as Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander came to the fore, that the general public began to understand and appreciate this type of photography, coming to consider Street Photography as a genre in its own right. Until the advent of Internet, Street Photography remains the prerogative of a handful of people who identify its practice with the figure of the ‘flâneur’. Now that Street Photography has become widely appreciated, it seems to us that the approach to this genre is rapidly shifting, departing considerably from its origins. When we began to history of Italian, and especially of international photography. We discovered a cultured tradition and, above all, a tradition characterized by shared values. The recent fashion that has drawn more and more people to this genre focuses instead on aspects that are more superficial and immediate, on achieving ‘special effects’. Sometimes the results do not seem to stem from any real research. Umberto Verdoliva seems, to our mind, an unusual and somewhat surprisingly positive case, considering today’s panorama, that leads us to have faith in the future of Street Photography. That is why the Mignon group has decided to promote his work, drawing freely from his archives and arranging his works according to a logic that we might describe as ‘emotional’. In Umberto’s photographic eye, we see the curiosity typical of those who – while following up their creative impulse – feel that they still have to measure up to those who went before, to see what paths they took, and grasp their inspiration, in the awareness that they have only to gain by doing so. In Verdoliva’s masterly visual lucidity, consisting of many small works that are often still in progress, we can see several aspects of our own research. In his prolific relationship with history and the authors of the past, we capture that study on light, against the dim backdrop of contemporary photographic production, that makes us optimistic. In his attitude to exchanging ideas and sharing, which prompted him to found the SPONTANEA group, we see evidence of the group spirit that has characterized and supported the evolution of the photographic medium right from the beginning. Umberto has constructively intercepted the best of what the new web-based of exchange and communication systems have to offer. Above all, he is an example that draws the attention of others, proposing a genuinely and positively authorial form of photography.
For the Mignon group, it is therefore not only a pleasure, but also an honor to present