The Biennale may be coming to an end on Sunday, but there are plenty of other excellent exhibitions still to be enjoyed around Venice. One such show is at the Casa Tre Oci gallery on Giudecca, dedicated to the masterful Italian photographer Ferdinando Scianna.
Born in Bagheria, Sicily, in 1943, Scianna began his working life as a photographer in the early 1960s, using his camera to recount the culture and traditions of his native island. Today, after a career spanning over 50 years and many countries, he’s widely acknowledged as one of the leading figures in contemporary international photography.
The current exhibition features over 180 black and white images drawn from all periods of Scianna’s life, divided into the three wide-ranging themes of Journey, Story and Memory. Within these overarching themes, the exhibition showcases the great spectrum of subjects that Scianna captured so powerfully, ranging from religious festivals to intimate family scenes and the world of high fashion – an area that brought him particular acclaim due to his early collaborations with Dolce and Gabbana and the iconic model Marpessa. A number of his most celebrated fashion photographs are included in the show, as well as some lesser-known images shot in the alleys and squares of Venice – testimony to his strong links with the lagoon city. In addition, the exhibition presents a series of striking portraits of his personal friends in the cultural sphere, such as writer Milan Kundera, philosopher Roland Barthes and filmmaker Martin Scorsese.
Above all, however, Scianna considered himself a reporter, and a large portion of the show is dedicated to his arresting work as a photojournalist with Magnum Photojournalism Agency, covering warfare and social change around the world. As he observed, “as a reporter my basic reference point is my master par excellence, Henri Cartier-Bresson, for whom a photograph must aim at being an invisible witness which never intrudes in order to modify the world and the moments of the reality that it reads and interprets. I have always made a sharp distinction between found images and constructed ones. I have always considered myself as part of those photographers who find images, those who recount and inform you, as in a mirror.”
On view until 2nd February, the exhibition offers a truly fascinating mirror onto the extraordinary scenes that Scianna witnessed through the lens over the course of his long and eventful career, and is not to be missed.