Ferrara dedicates a major anthological exhibition to Nino Migliori, with more than one hundred shots

From February 17 to June 3, 2024, the Estense Castle in Ferrara will host a major anthological exhibition dedicated to Nino Migliori with over one hundred works on display.

At the Estense Castle in Ferrara, from February 17 to June 3, 2024, the major anthological exhibition Nino Migliori. An Endless Quest, curated by Denis Curti, organized by the Ferrara Arte Foundation and the Art Museum Service of the Municipality of Ferrara in collaboration with the Nino Migliori Foundation. Dedicated to Nino Migliori (Bologna, 1926), among the most famous Italian photographers of international renown, the exhibition aims to retrace the “endless research” conducted by the photographer from 1948 to the present, from the neo-realist flavor shots that tell the story of Italy in the 1950s and the series of Walls and Torn Posters, where he shows affinities with European informal painting, to the conceptual experiments with which he investigates neglected or unanticipated aspects of photographic language (the reaction of materials, the conscious role of chance, that of time, the physical and gestural presence of the artist), and to works that highlight a particular interest in visual communication as a whole.

On display will be more than 100 works intended to emphasize the power of the image, a theme that has characterized his entire vast and varied output.

“When I began photographing, in 1948, at home, in a small room,” Migliori recalls, “I set up a makeshift darkroom. And it was there that I met chance. A poorly fixed development drip on a sheet of sensitive paper opened a new world for me: not only photography as a representation of the ’real,’ but the possibility of conceiving an image with imagination, with gesture, still using the tools of photography: light, sensitive paper, development, fixing, heat. This gave rise to the desire to experiment. I have never been satisfied with standardization, unanimous consent, the reiteration of a cliché that pleases the market. It satisfies me to put myself out there, to have fun by making work that I commiserate with myself. The use of historical techniques such as cliché-verre, photograms or the invention of new ones, such as oxidations, pyrograms, hydrograms, polarigrams and others, have always been tools to realize an idea, a project. I am curious and like to leave the old road for the new. And maybe just along the way a chance encounter gives rise to new stimuli for me to explore. The sirens of novelty are very seductive.”

“I have always thought of Nino Migliori’s photography as something in perpetual motion,” said Denis Curti, curator of the exhibition. “A continuous flow of ideas, projects, experimentations, but also precise ethical and political stances accompanied by an aesthetic ideal ready to change direction because it is always following the content. I watched the unfolding of his work with immense curiosity. Several times I have tried to place him in conventional contexts, but shortcuts do not work. The classificatory attempt into genres has turned out to be unstable, fragmentary and incomplete each time, because Migliori has always acted with a single, unwavering goal: to move the boundaries of photography further and further, continually rewriting the grammar of images, opening and legitimizing strands of inquiry previously unknown to him. His endless quest is a mental condition, a physical state. A need for knowledge. A need for continuous confrontation. In his hands, photography has been loved and abused. Stripped and clothed. Burned, forgotten and recycled. Repudiated and welcomed again. His inventions are all about unveiling, for a vision that is never unambiguous. Intentional vision is as valuable as chance wonder. That is why wonder occupies a privileged place in his visual alphabet. His lexicon is without superlatives and is translatable into all the languages of the world.”

“Migliori does not merely record, he deliberately modifies the ordinary terms of perception, pandering as best he can to the optical sensitivity of his apparatus in order to graft not only a lyrical interpretation, but also a philosophical reflection on what is made visible, once again, beyond the limit of our natural capacities. It is the negation of the museum dimension, where every object is clearly illuminated, sterilized, frozen, under the illusion of providing us with the precise account of history,” stressed Vittorio Sgarbi, president of the Ferrara Arte Foundation. “Metaphorically, Migliori’s photography invites us to be skeptical of such optimistic perspectives: history, like reality, is an illusion, it is only what we are able to consider as such on the basis of surviving evidence. The great darkness of the lost, the forgotten, always prevails over the little light of the known.”

“Nino Migliori is one of the greatest photographers of the twentieth century and it is an honor for Ferrara to pay tribute to him with this exhibition set up at the Estense Castle,” concluded Marco Gulinelli, Culture Councillor of the Municipality of Ferrara. “It is true that Migliori always tried to go beyond the simple reproduction of reality, exploring the different expressive possibilities of the photographic medium. He has been able to capture, and continues undaunted to do so, the social and cultural aspects of our country, with a unique sensitivity and originality. An experimenter in innovative and creative techniques, he has managed to create evocative and iconic images in which matter and gesture become protagonists and become art. His collaboration with important artists such as Vedova, Tancredi and Morandi makes him, in turn, a protagonist not only of photography but also of informal and conceptual art, so akin to him.”

Accompanying the exhibition is a catalog, published by Marsilio and edited by Denis Curti, which represents the master’s entire oeuvre through nine conceptual maps, as many as the sections, and a selection of his most significant works.

Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Tuesdays.

Image: Nino Migliori, from Gente dell’Emilia, 1950s.

Ferrara dedicates a major anthological exhibition to Nino Migliori, with more than one hundred shots
Ferrara dedicates a major anthological exhibition to Nino Migliori, with more than one hundred shots

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