February 26, 2024


Unique & Classy

Gian Paolo Barbieri elevated fashion photography

4 min read

NUDITY ISso robust and pure”, suggests Monica Bellucci, an Italian actress and design. “The second you photograph a naked overall body, for some rationale, you constantly get the picture”. She is speaking in “The Male and the Beauty”, a forthcoming documentary about Gian Paolo Barbieri, a Milanese manner photographer. Ms Bellucci has been a thing of a muse to him given that she started modelling in 1989 and he photographed her nude many moments.

“Working with Gian Paolo is exclusive, unique”, she carries on, emphasising the “environment of total trust” among them. “He appears to be like at you in a way that [makes] you truly feel at the exact time improved and respected.” In the film, she lies in a pool of h2o all through a shoot for a GQ calendar in 2001, carrying a costume that resembles cling film. Afterwards, Mr Barbieri plunges into an additional tank and fusses with products to protected the excellent shot.

It is this focus to detail that aided Mr Barbieri protected his standing as one particular of the best residing fashion photographers. He is component of a era of artists such as Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton and Irving Penn who blurred the line amongst fashion and great artwork. Above the system of his a long time-extended career he has captured fashion legends and celebrities—Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Donatella Versace and Vivienne Westwood, to name a few—in putting black-and-white portraits (pictured, below). A lot of of these pictures are on screen at “Gian Paolo Barbieri: Unconventional”, a retrospective of his function at 29 Arts In Progress Gallery in Milan. It also marks the very first time that numerous of his color images are currently being exhibited.

From the day he picked up a camera, irreverence and inventiveness have described his approach to pictures. His earliest attempts were being taken on the terrace of his relatives home in Milan: a younger Mr Barbieri styled his pals as characters from novels, paintings and movies these kinds of as “Sunset Boulevard” (1950), making use of materials pilfered from his father’s textile manufacturing unit. He is mostly self-taught, with the exception of a stint in 1958 capturing starlets on established at Cinecittà, the film studio in Rome in which “Cleopatra” was manufactured.

Cinema was a source of inspiration for the photographer, whose operate attracts on Italian Neorealism and the dramatic lights of film noir. He specifically admired the Italian film-maker Federico Fellini the girls in Mr Barbieri’s images give off the very same combine of sophistication and intercourse charm as Anita Ekberg in “La Dolce Vita” (1960).

Right after a shorter apprenticeship in Paris with Tom Kublin, a photographer at Harper’s Bazaar, Mr Barbieri returned to Milan in 1962 and opened a studio there. His get the job done was printed in Novità the pursuing calendar year, which later on grew to become Vogue Italia. This was the commence of the partnership with Condé Nast that launched his occupation in large-conclusion vogue and he began collaborating with brand names this sort of as Armani, Valentino and Versace.

In “The Male and the Beauty”, couturiers such as Domenico Dolce, Stefano Gabbana and Giuseppe Zanotti spotlight Mr Barbieri’s creativeness. He sought to raise the bar in manner promoting, experimenting with neon lights in his photographs. His graphic on the cover of Vogue Italia lit up newsstands in 1976 (pictured, down below). In 1998, he hand-colored a black-and-white picture that was impressed by the basic Rita Hayworth movie “Miss Sadie Thompson”, imitating a approach preferred with photographers in the 1950s.

A single of the most unforgettable photographs in the exhibition depicts Yasmeen Ghauri, a product, in the Seychelles in 1993 sporting clothing by Gianfranco Ferré, yet another designer. She is standing in entrance of a dramatic backdrop that Mr Barbieri fashioned from enormous Ravenala madagascariensis leaves (pictured, top rated). At present these kinds of a scene would possibly be designed on Photoshop. Manner pictures right now is mostly digital many luxurious makes have shot global campaigns on iPhones in modern many years. The deft, meticulous tactic that Mr Barbieri pioneered feels all but neglected. Then once more, devoid of his vision, style houses could never ever have realised the electric power of creative marketing.

The photographer has shied away from the self-portrait for the duration of his vocation. Now 88 decades old and suffering from Parkison’s ailment, the documentary is just one of the couple moments he has stood in front of the lens. He is a unwilling subject. “I do not enjoy currently being the concentrate of focus,” he says. All the exact same, the movie and exhibition are vital tributes to his towering impact on his area.

“Gian Paolo Barbieri: Unconventional” is exhibiting at 29 Arts In Progress Gallery in Milan right until April 22nd. “The Person and the Beauty” will be unveiled on streaming platforms in Europe in spring.

Credits: All photographs © Gian Paolo Barbieri. Top: Yasmeen Ghauri in Gianfranco Ferré, Seychelles ,1993 Courtesy of Fondazione Gian Paolo Barbieri/29 ARTS IN Development gallery

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