NUDITY IS “so strong and pure”, says Monica Bellucci, an Italian actress and model. “The minute you photograph a bare physique, for some purpose, you normally get the picture”. She is speaking in “The Person and the Beauty”, a forthcoming documentary about Gian Paolo Barbieri, a Milanese vogue photographer. Ms Bellucci has been one thing of a muse to him because she started modelling in 1989 and he photographed her nude numerous moments.
“Working with Gian Paolo is unique, unique”, she proceeds, emphasising the “environment of overall trust” amongst them. “He seems to be at you in a way that [makes] you come to feel at the identical time increased and respected.” In the film, she lies in a pool of drinking water through a shoot for a GQ calendar in 2001, sporting a dress that resembles cling film. Afterwards, Mr Barbieri plunges into yet another tank and fusses with tools to safe the perfect shot.
It is this focus to detail that aided Mr Barbieri secure his standing as a single of the biggest residing vogue photographers. He is portion of a technology of artists these kinds of as Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton and Irving Penn who blurred the line concerning manner and wonderful art. Over the course of his a long time-extended career he has captured manner legends and celebrities—Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Donatella Versace and Vivienne Westwood, to title a few—in placing black-and-white portraits (pictured, under). Many of these visuals are on exhibit at “Gian Paolo Barbieri: Unconventional”, a retrospective of his do the job at 29 Arts In Development Gallery in Milan. It also marks the very first time that quite a few of his color photos are becoming exhibited.
From the working day he picked up a digicam, irreverence and inventiveness have defined his approach to photography. His earliest makes an attempt have been taken on the terrace of his family home in Milan: a young Mr Barbieri styled his buddies as characters from novels, paintings and films such as “Sunset Boulevard” (1950), employing fabrics pilfered from his father’s textile factory. He is mainly self-taught, with the exception of a stint in 1958 taking pictures starlets on set at Cinecittà, the movie studio in Rome in which “Cleopatra” was built.
Cinema was a supply of inspiration for the photographer, whose get the job done draws on Italian Neorealism and the spectacular lighting of film noir. He specially admired the Italian film-maker Federico Fellini the girls in Mr Barbieri’s photos give off the identical combine of sophistication and intercourse attractiveness as Anita Ekberg in “La Dolce Vita” (1960).
After a small 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 operate was released in Novità the subsequent 12 months, which later became Vogue Italia. This was the start of the relationship with Condé Nast that introduced his job in significant-conclude style and he started collaborating with brands such as Armani, Valentino and Versace.
In “The Person and the Beauty”, couturiers these types of as Domenico Dolce, Stefano Gabbana and Giuseppe Zanotti highlight Mr Barbieri’s creative imagination. He sought to increase the bar in style advertising and marketing, experimenting with neon lights in his pictures. His picture on the protect of Vogue Italia lit up newsstands in 1976 (pictured, below). In 1998, he hand-colored a black-and-white image that was inspired by the basic Rita Hayworth film “Miss Sadie Thompson”, imitating a method preferred with photographers in the 1950s.
A single of the most unforgettable visuals in the exhibition depicts Yasmeen Ghauri, a product, in the Seychelles in 1993 carrying dresses by Gianfranco Ferré, one more designer. She is standing in front of a extraordinary backdrop that Mr Barbieri fashioned from massive Ravenala madagascariensis leaves (pictured, top rated). Currently this kind of a scene would most likely be developed on Photoshop. Manner images now is generally electronic a number of luxury models have shot global campaigns on iPhones in recent a long time. The deft, meticulous method that Mr Barbieri pioneered feels all but overlooked. Then all over again, without having his eyesight, style properties could never ever have realised the power of resourceful advertising.
The photographer has shied absent from the self-portrait throughout his vocation. Now 88 years outdated and struggling from Parkison’s disorder, the documentary is a single of the number of occasions he has stood in entrance of the lens. He is a hesitant topic. “I do not love becoming the aim of focus,” he suggests. All the exact same, the film and exhibition are significant tributes to his towering impact on his discipline. ■
“Gian Paolo Barbieri: Unconventional” is demonstrating at 29 Arts In Development Gallery in Milan until eventually April 22nd. “The Gentleman and the Beauty” will be launched on streaming platforms in Europe in spring.
Credits: All pictures © Gian Paolo Barbieri. Best: Yasmeen Ghauri in Gianfranco Ferré, Seychelles ,1993 Courtesy of Fondazione Gian Paolo Barbieri/29 ARTS IN Development gallery