The Matthew Marks Gallery is currently showing an exhibition of photographs by Luigi Ghirri, a land surveyor turned artist who was among the first in Italy to elevate color photography to the status of artistic expression.
Born in 1943, Ghirri began working with photography as a form of art in the 1970s. Traveling through the cities, agricultural landscapes, and tourist localities of his native Emilia Romagna, Ghirri developed a vast corpus of images that document and investigate the spaces, objects, and people of a region caught between its agrarian past and its touristic development, between domestic economies and consumerist culture. The photographs display, through a whirlwind of visual inputs that are very familiar to anyone who has lived during the 1970s and 1980s, the mix of familiarity and disorientation that characterized those years. It is a tour de force that carries the gravitas of the serial, methodical inquiry, and also a nostalgic longing for a distinctly Italian landscape that today has grown harder to recognize, and harder to transform into art.
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