MAN_Museo d'Arte Provincia di Nuoro

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Werner Bischof

12.10  -  03.12.2012

The Werner Bischof photo exhibition, curated by the Werner Bischof Foundation of Paris, the Magnum Photos Agency and the Agenzia Contrasto, is jointly organized by Imago Multimedia Nuoro photo agency and publishers and the MAN Museum of Nuoro. With over 100 photographs including a selection of the artist’s most famous snapshots, it also comprises 30 photos taken in Sardinia in 1950, many of which have never been published previously and here make their world début.

It is a unique event in Sardinia – 130 of the most famous of Bischof’s photographs including a series of unpublished works. This exhibit constitutes an exhaustive retrospective and a journey to the heart of the production of one of the most important photo-reporters of the 20th century, a world-renowned and extraordinarily talented artist. In fact, in 1949 Werner Bischof was the first photographer to become a member of Magnum. He possessed the faculty of combining an objective documentary-type observation of reality devoid of all manipulation of the observer’s eye with a lyrical, almost intimate, vision of the situation and subject. As he himself stated on several occasions, he felt he was more of an artist than a photo-reporter. Indeed, not many photographers have been able to condense in such a short time span of professional activity such profound and sharp observation, cognisant and absolutely original at the same time. Rejecting the “superficiality and sensationalism” of photo magazines,
Bischof dedicated the greater part of his life to the study of traditional culture, an oftentimes neglected sector which allowed him to maintain a distance from editors eager for cover photos. He was thus able to travel throughout the world carrying out exceptional reporting on society at large: Japan, Indochina, Korea, India, where in 1951 he carried out his famous famine reportage series for Life magazine; Mexico, Hong Kong, Panama and
Peru where he died at the age of 38. The photos of these reportages which appeared in the major magazines and photo magazines of the world are visible for the first time in Sardinia in this exhibit at the MAN Museum of Nuoro.

A vital aspect of the exhibit at the MAN Museum in Nuoro is the presence of an entire section dedicated to the photos WERNER BISCHOF shot in SARDINIA in 1950, some of which are being made public for the first time.

Bischof was sent to the island by “Epoca” to document the dire work conditions of the Campidano inhabitants and the miners of the Iglesiente area. His reportage is characterized by his total immersion in the milieu. The seriousness of the themes in question, which prompted expressionism on the part of many of his photo-reporter colleagues, was for him the opportunity to pick up on the less dramatic aspect of facts and people. He achieved this result using the “slightly out of focus” stylistic solution, providing a fresh outlook on the events. The photos taken in Sardinia, while complying with the desire for a certain level of formality, find a trade-off between aesthetics and objective rigour in their search for balance of image: high cuts, centred shot, lowered and highlighted foreground. His mastery of technique allowed him to choose the best of a “one-shot” moment. Bischof’s humanity is all the more evident in his choice of subjects: the daily life of people rather than the land; it is the Sardinia of the inhabitants rather than the idea of an abstract lineage or an offended and hurting earth. And with the capture of the lightness of a subject’s smile he succeeds in transcending the horrors and devastation left by the war.


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