Xerjoff Magazine

Mario De Biasi: a hymn to life


Casa dei Tre Oci in Venice hosts a great retrospective exhibition dedicated to Mario De Biasi. 216 photos on show, half of which previously unpublished, that talk about the many facets of one of the greatest Italian photographers.

A great retrospective dedicated to Mario De Biasi is now in progress until 9th January 2022 at Casa dei Tre Oci (Giudecca,43) in Venice. The exhibition “Mario De Biasi. Fotografie 1947-2003” retraces the whole production of one of the greatest Italian photographers, from the beginnings marked by his collaboration with the weekly Epoca until his latest works. 216 photos, half of which previously unpublished, are organised chronologically according to subject-areas through 10 sections describing the rich photographic universe of De Biasi that include great historical events, exotic journeys, portraits of famous and powerful characters, scenes of daily life, anonymous faces and finally his conceptual and abstract works. Curated by Enrica Viganò who defines De Biasi’s work “a hymn to life”, the retrospective exhibition displays for the first time, among many unpublished works, the entire sequence of De Biasi’s most well-known and probably best-loved photography: “Gli Italiani si voltano”, made in 1954 for the weekly photo magazine Bolero Film and chosen by Germano Celant as main image of his exhibition at Guggenheim Museum in New York, “The Italian Metamorphosis 1943-1968”.

A charming Moira Orfei dressed in white walks through the centre of Milan, catching the eye of a group of men. Great space in the exhibition is given to the shots from the 1950s with the images of an Italy devastated by the war, where one can however capture the desire for rebirth and reconstruction; memorable views of New York can also be admired as well as the reportage of the 1956 Hungarian uprising made under the fire of bullets, that injured De Biasi and earned him the nickname “Mad Italian”. Two epic shoots date back instead to 1964: the one in Siberia, with temperatures below 65 degrees, and the one among the lava tongues of the erupting Etna. However, some private scenes of daily life filled with lightness are also present, ones that De Biasi captured all over the world, with photos of kisses, street barbers and lunchbreaks from London to Paris, from Rome to Vienna, from Cairo to Tehran, from Thailand to Brazil, from Israel to Nepal. The images of the landing on the moon are also exhibited, his most well-known celebrity portraits, such as those of Sofia Loren, Brigitte Bardot, Federico Fellini, Maria Callas; some of the countless trips, in particular the ones to Hong Kong, South America and India. Finally, the last section focuses on nature, whose shapes and signs are revisited and photographically expressed as a sort of “visual poetry”.

Above: Mario De Biasi, Messico, 1968