A major exhibition in Forlì devoted entirely to the greatest female photographers of the 20th century

The San Domenico Museums in Forli present from September 18, 2021 to January 30, 2022 a major exhibition dedicated to the great female photographers of the twentieth century: 314 photographs by thirty female authors are on display.

From Sept. 18, 2021 to Jan. 30, 2022, the San Domenico Museums in Forli present the photographic exhibition Being Human. Great Women Photographers Tell the World, curated by Walter Guadagnini, conceived and realized in collaboration with Monica Fantini and Fabio Lazzari.

314 photographs will be on display, including some very famous ones such as Lee Miller in Hitler’s bathtub, Inge Morath’s mask series made with Saul Steinberg, Dorothea Lange’s iconic faces of peasants during the Great Depression, Eve Arnold’s report on a fashion show in Harlem in the 1950s, and Annie Leibovitz’s revolutionary shots for an ’epochal edition of the Pirelli Calendar.

The exhibition is intended to be a journey through images in the evolution of the world’s photographic language, with a focus on the greatest female photographers of the 20th century. It will be possible to trace this evolution through the great war reportages and changes in social customs, post-war reconstruction and gender issues, the rise of consumer society and the observation of the role of women in non-Western countries.

The exhibition is proposed as an unprecedented review in Italy, dedicated to thirty female authors who, from the 1930s to contemporary times, have interpreted photography as a tool for investigation and reflection, with poetic or crude expressive registers seui major themes of society.

The first section is devoted to the period from the 1930s to the 1950s and ranges from the series made by the American Dorothea Lange during the American crisis of the 1930s for the FSA (Farm Security Administration), to those of Lee Miller taken in Hitler’s apartment at the end of World War II, from the “English” series by the German Giséle Freund to the photographs taken in Italy by the American Ruth Orkin (including the famous American Girl in Italy) in 1951, from the images of the Reflections series by the Austrian Lisette Model, focused on the theme of American consumerism, to the photographs of the Mexican period by the Italian Tina Modotti, during which she met and photographed Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.

Still in the first section, shots by three other U.S. authors will be on display: Berenice Abbott, Man Ray’s former assistant in the 1920s in Paris; Margareth Bourke-White, the first foreign photographer who was allowed to take pictures in the then Soviet Union; and finally, the series on parades of African-American women in Harlem by American Eve Arnold (these images convinced Henri Cartier-Bresson to call Arnold to Magnum, the first woman along with Inge Morath to join the prestigious Parisian photo agency founded by Robert Capa). Also on display will be Gerda Taro’s ten recently acquired works taken during the Spanish Civil War.

The second section is devoted to the years between the 1960s and 1980s: From the Mask series born out of the encounter between Austrian Inge Morath and Romanian naturalized American draughtsman Saul Steinberg in the early 1960s, to the disturbing and often controversial images of singular characters by Russian-born American Diane Arbus, from the photographs denouncing the degrading conditions of the Carnival Strippers by American Susan Meiselas to the photographs taken among the Indians of theYanomami Amazon by Brazilian Claudia Andujar, the protagonist of a recent solo exhibition at the Cartier Foundation in Paris, or even those from the series dedicated in the 1970s-1980s to the matriarchal community of Juchitan, Mexico, by Graciela Iturbide, to those that Indian Dayanita Singh took for more than ten years of Mona Ahmed, forging a relationship of deep friendship with him.

Very significant in this section is the space dedicated to some of the most famous exponents of Italian photography such as Carla Cerati, with images from Mondo cocktail, a series dedicated to the bourgeois reality of Milanese cocktail parties, Lisetta Carmi with the 1965 series dedicated to the community of transvestites who had occupied Genoa’s former Jewish ghetto, Paola Mattioli with famous self-portraits from the 1970s, and Letizia Battaglia with images dedicated to Palermo’s little girls and Mafia murders.

A special section will be devoted to portraits of thirteen prominent women from various fields, from business to sports, from music to cinema, taken by one of the world’s most famous photographers, Annie Leibovitz, for the iconic 2016 Pirelli Calendar.

More articulate is the final section dedicated to the years between the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century. Here, too, images by female photographers belonging to individual projects will be on display, such as portraits by South African Zanele Muholi, the star of the 2019 Venice Biennale, or images by Iranian Newsha Tavakolian, a member of theMagnum agency, depicting the women-warriors of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), and also the photos from the Baba Yaga series by Russian Nanna Heitmann dedicated to the inhabitants of the Yanisei the great Siberian river bordering the taiga or those of the Czech Jitka Hanzlova with the Female series, a series of female portraits accomplished between Europe and the United States, up to the images dedicated to the difficult conditions of Iranian women by Shadi Ghadirian and those of Letizia Battaglia’s daughter, Shobha.

The section will conclude with a striking installation of images from the Afronauts series by Spain’s Cristina De Middel, recently named an associate member of Magnum Photos, and two large-scale images by China’s Cao Fei dedicated to the everyday realities of her country. Finally, the latter section will host shots by Silvia Camporesi from Forlì, with a work entitled Domestica: thirty photographs taken during the lockdown.

The exhibition is promoted by the Fondazione Cassa dei Risparmi di Forlì in collaboration with the Municipality of Forlì and is organized by the Foundation’s instrumental company ’Civitas srl’.

For info: www.essereumane.it

Hours: Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Image: Lee Miller with David E. Scherman, Lee Miller in Hitler’s bathtub, Hitler’s apartment, Munich, Germany, 1945. Detail. © Lee Miller Archives

A major exhibition in Forlì devoted entirely to the greatest female photographers of the 20th century
A major exhibition in Forlì devoted entirely to the greatest female photographers of the 20th century

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