PAOLO GOLTARA | Magnum Photography Awards 2017 Entry

"HOPE" Freedom Tower, New York City, 2017

"HOPE" Freedom Tower, New York City, 2017

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Irving Penn: Centennial

Exhibition Dates:April 24–July 30, 2017

Exhibition Location: The Met Fifth Avenue, Gallery 199
 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art will present a major retrospective of the photographs of Irving Penn to mark the centennial of the artist's birth. Over the course of his nearly 70-year career, Irving Penn (1917–2009) mastered a pared-down aesthetic of studio photography that is distinguished for its meticulous attention to composition, nuance, detail, and printmaking. Irving Penn: Centennial, opening April 24, 2017, will be the most comprehensive exhibition of the great American photographer's work to date and will include both masterpieces and hitherto unknown prints from all his major series.

Long celebrated for more than six decades of influential work at Vogue magazine, Penn was first and foremost a fashion photographer. His early photographs of couture are masterpieces that established a new standard for photographic renderings of style at mid-century, and he continued to record the cycles of fashions year after year in exquisite images characterized by striking shapes and formal brilliance. His rigorous modern compositions, minimal backgrounds, and diffused lighting were innovative and immensely influential. Yet Penn's photographs of fashion are merely the most salient of his specialties. He was a peerless portraitist, whose perceptions extended beyond the human face and figure to take in more complete codes of demeanor, adornment, and artifact. He was also blessed with an acute graphic intelligence and a sculptor's sensitivity to volumes in light, talents that served his superb nude studies and life-long explorations of still life.

Penn dealt with so many subjects throughout his long career that he is conventionally seen either with a single lens—as the portraitist, fashion photographer, or still life virtuoso—or as the master of all trades, the jeweler of journalists who could fine-tool anything. The exhibition at The Met will chart a different course, mapping the overall geography of the work and the relative importance of the subjects and campaigns the artist explored most creatively. Its organization largely follows the pattern of his development so that the structure of the work, its internal coherence, and the tenor of the times of the artist's experience all become evident.

The exhibition will most thoroughly explore the following series: street signs, including examples of early work in New York, the American South, and Mexico; fashion and style, with many classic photographs of Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, the former dancer who became the first supermodel as well as the artist's wife; portraits of indigenous people in Cuzco, Peru; the Small Trades portraits of urban laborers; portraits of beloved cultural figures from Truman Capote, Joe Louis, Picasso, and Colette to Alvin Ailey, Ingmar Bergman, and Joan Didion; the infamous cigarette still lifes; portraits of the fabulously dressed citizens of Dahomey (Benin), New Guinea, and Morocco; the late "Morandi" still lifes; voluptuous nudes; and glorious color studies of flowers. These subjects chart the artist's path through the demands of the cultural journal, the changes in fashion itself and in editorial approach, the fortunes of the picture press in the age of television, the requirements of an artistic inner voice in a commercial world, the moral condition of the American conscience during the Vietnam War era, the growth of photography as a fine art in the 1970s and 1980s, and personal intimations of mortality. All these strands of meaning are embedded in the images—a web of deep and complex ideas belied by the seeming forthrightness of what is represented.

Penn generally worked in a studio or in a traveling tent that served the same purpose, and favored a simple background of white or light gray tones. His preferred backdrop was made from an old theater curtain found in Paris that had been softly painted with diffused gray clouds. This backdrop followed Penn from studio to studio; a companion of over 60 years, it will be displayed in one of the Museum's galleries among celebrated portraits it helped create. Other highlights of the exhibition include newly unearthed footage of the photographer at work in his tent in Morocco; issues of Vogue magazine illustrating the original use of the photographs and, in some cases, to demonstrate the difference between those brilliantly colored, journalistic presentations and Penn's later reconsidered reuse of the imagery; and several of Penn's drawings shown near similar still life photographs.

Paolo Goltara: Passion and Feelings

Italian-born ADC Member brings his passion for photography to the Big Apple

PAOLO GOLTARA | Art Director & Fine Art Photographer

PAOLO GOLTARA | Art Director & Fine Art Photographer

How old were you when you became interested in photography? How did that interest come about, and how was it fostered?

My interest began with fashion photography. When I was 14 years old, I remember whenever I had a little money, I used it to buy fashion magazines like Italian Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire. I loved to select the best magazine pictures and hang them on the walls and furniture in my bedroom. My two brothers were very happy about my hobby because all of these photos were showing beautiful models!

This all fostered my dream to become a good photographer. Every great dream begins with a dreamer, and that was me back then!

Do you remember the earliest photograph you ever took?

Yes of course! I was born in Terracina, a small Italian town on the seaside very close to Rome. My town is surrounded by beautiful landscapes, so my earliest photograph that I took was a landscape shot of my town in black & white.

What type of photography would you say is your specialty, and how did it come to be your specialty?

I started my career as fashion photographer, but in the last few years New York has become my adopted city, and I became very passionate about the city. I launched a fine art photography project named NYC Limited Edition, where I attempt to capture fleeting moments and document the beauty and energy that revolves around a city where there never seems to be enough. So fine art photography became the best way for me to interact with the world that surrounds me.

Can one’s specialty be transient — starting in one area of photography but evolving into another?

Yes, sure, one can move into different areas of photography. I think it is important to specialize, to focus on a particular field, but nevertheless, it’s more important to believe in what you are doing, and then all is possible!

Define your photographic style in a single sentence.

I would like that other people define my style; my style comes from inside so I don’t want to limit it to mere words!

What’s your favorite camera to shoot with? What’s so awesome about it?

I don’t have a favorite camera to shoot with. In the beginning, when I started to take photos, I was using an old Yashica all manual, but since then I have learned that buying a Nikon doesn’t make you a photographer. It makes you a Nikon owner. What makes you a photographer is how you combine light, the right moment to shoot, form, space… the camera is just a tool, what is important is the idea.

“…I have learned that buying a Nikon doesn’t make you a photographer. It makes you a Nikon owner.”

What is the hardest part about making a living as a photographer? Any advice on how to overcome that challenge?

Being a photographer has never been easy, but technology has made it easy to take a decent picture, so there are more images and photographers in an over-saturated marketplace. My advice is that you must be the very best at what you do. If you are driven and persistent, there is a place for you. Be passionate about every project you become involved in.

Is there a particular project of yours of which you’re especially proud?

Yes, it was my first photo section for a prestigious magazine the first issue of the Polish edition ofMarie Claire. In that moment, I understood that my dreams had become reality.

What would be your dream client/project/collaboration?

I have recently evolved into a curator/creative director, working with some of the most exciting emerging photographers in New York, each of whom sees time as I do, the essence of New York City life. My dream is that my project will show photography that comes from feelings rather than from technology. Technology is everywhere. What we need now is emotion and ideas.

Nowadays everyone has ‘cameras’ in their pockets and Instagram on their phones. How has this changed the photography game? How has this changed your photography game?

Mobile phone cameras these days have the ability to make images that are as sharp and detailed as professional digital cameras. It’s been a real game changer to have such a powerful tool in your pocket at all times. There are a lot of moments on the road when the closest camera is the one in your pocket, and you’ll manage to get a shot with your mobile device that you would not have gotten with your pro bodies and lenses because they weren’t around your neck at that moment.

I think my favorite aspect of Instagram is that it allows me to share with people my latest work soon after it is created. Instagram is a great way to show people what you’re up to on a day to day basis, instead of only through curated selections on a formal site.

“So, you’re a photographer?” What’s the strangest question you’ve received when someone learned what you do?

“Are you dating all pretty girls?”

What are your other creative outlets and sources of inspiration?

I love everything about images. In addition to being a fine art photographer, I’m also an art director. Sometimes research or creative output on a project in one of these positions can provide source material for work in others. Over time, I’ve discovered that creative work can transform itself in strangest ways from one genre to another. Many ideas have haunted me enough to appear in multiple forms. Some of my sources of inspiration are Behance,DesignspirationAwwwardsSmashing MagazinePinterest and Abduzeedo.

Fill in the blank: “When I’m not shooting, I am…”

… a dad! ☺

Which professional photographers do you look up to, whether from afar or as mentors?

I love Peter Lindbergh, I grew up with his amazing photos. There is an undeniable personal nature to Lindbergh’s photography — his focus on the eyes of his subjects, on their energy, the way which women blossom under his lens that reaches for a kind of beauty that exists beyond the surface. In his photos, you can see the feelings behind the models’ beauty, and this what makes a photograph iconic.

When all is said and done, what is it about being a photographer that gets you up in the morning and drives your passion?

It is the wish and the passion to tell the world that surrounds me through my feelings and my point of view.