Andrew Romano

Kodachrome by Luigi Ghirri (originally published 1978; second edition 2012)

While Ghirri’s work has received renewed attention over the past several years, the witty, urbane and humanistic photographs of Ghirri have largely been under-appreciated outside his native Italy until now. Most recently, the photographer and artist Thomas Demand has championed his work and included Ghirri in his excellent exhibition La Carte d’apres Nature. Aperture’s recent publication, It’s Beautiful Here, Isn’t It, was another welcome corrective. Long out-of-print, the new edition of Kodachrome will hopefully help restore and cement Ghirri’s stature as a vital photographer of the 20th century.

Ghirri’s life was tragically cut shot when he died at the age of 49 in 1992. Well-respected in his native Italy, Ghirri not only built an impressive body of work, but also helped champion his colleagues and fellow Italian photographers. punto e virgola, Ghirri’s publishing house, had a short run, but published Kodachrome, a few theoretical and academic books, a handful of books by Italian photographers like Franco Fontana and Roberto Salbitani, as well as monographs on other European and American photographers such as Dennis Stock and Robert Doisneau. Kodachrome was Ghirri’s first monograph and collected images from his archive dating from 1971-78. This new reprint retains the design, size and modest paperback format of the first edition. The book includes Ghirri’s original statement along with a short text by the architect Piero Berengo Gardin. Aside from a new essay by Francesco Zanot, which is included in a pamphlet insert that also contains French and German translations of all the book’s texts, and new scans of Ghirri’s slides, the book is unchanged. …

Photography and art history is filled with neglected figures – artists whose work either came too soon, too late or fell on deaf ears. In an essay written in remembrance of Ghirri by his friend, the photographer Charles Traub, Traub reflected on Ghirri’s work and legacy. As Traub notes, “Ghirri’s work stands significantly besides his better know American contemporaries, such as Stephen Shore, William Eggleston and Robert Adams.” Traub goes on to write that “perhaps during the decade and a half when Ghirri worked, curatorial interests favored the detached, dispassionate, cool eye rather than favoring wit…[His] concerns were post-modern before those words were bandied about in photographic circles.”† Although Ghirri was not unrecognized in his lifetime, he was clearly out of step with prevailing American tastes and did not receive the attention he deserved.

Available here.

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