locandina mostra L'immagine dell'empresente. FOSCO MARAINI. Una retrospettiva


The MUSEC in Lugano celebrates the photography of Fosco Maraini, 20 years after his death, with the largest retrospective ever dedicated to him, the result of a research project started two years ago that involved from the beginning the main institutions that preserve and enhance his work. It is thus possible to definitively assign to Maraini his rightful place in the history of photography and, at the same time, to reflect on several levels on the supporting values of an art form that today, in the face of the new frontiers of technology, questions its very substance. A reflection aimed at emphasizing how any representation of reality, whether concrete or abstract, makes sense over time only if it is able to restore a spiritual universe and an original worldview.

The exhibition, set up at Villa Malpensata in Lugano, presents 223 photographs, some of them previously unpublished, taken between 1928 and 1971 in Europe and Asia. The choice of photographs is the result of a thorough exploration of Maraini’s photographic archives, from the hundreds of illustrated publications that first made it possible to define the chapters with which to structure the project, to the thousands of negatives preserved by the Gabinetto Vieusseux in Florence: taking into account “discoveries” in the process, missing or unusable negatives and comparative choices, necessary to ensure harmony and visual coherence, the selection thus took shape. The itinerary of the exhibition curated by Francesco Paolo Campione, director of MUSEC, restores the facets of Maraini’s photography: a photography of people and cultures; of landscapes that open onto infinity; of interior architecture in which the secret geometries of the inner world reverberate; of details that are revealed among the textures of a reality interpreted with rare intelligence and described with a cultured and very fine aesthetic. These are images “seized all’empresente,” as Maraini liked to say with one of her surprising neologisms. Images, that is, caught in that unrepeatable moment when the eye is given to perceiving the motions of the heart and soul.


Accompanying the exhibition is a catalog of the same name published by Skira and edited by Francesco Paolo Campione, with reproductions of all the photographs in the exhibition and an additional section of six previously unpublished portraits of Anna Magnani, taken during the shooting of the film Vulcano (1949). The volume contains eight in-depth thematic discussions, an anthology of Maraini’s texts on photography, testimonies from her daughters and widow, and a wealth of apparatuses that make it a reference work for Maraini studies.

Catalog card

Francesco Paolo Campione (ed.), The image of the empresente. Fosco Maraini. A retrospective, Skira (Exovisions/14), Milan 2024. Pp. 616. 23 full-page trichrome ill.ni n.t., 230 catalog ill.ni n.t. (214 in trichrome and 16 in color). ISBN 978-88-572-5165-3. CHF/€ 72.

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