Tate Modern Collection Displays: Italian Modernist Photography

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Tate Modern Collection Displays: Italian Modernist Photography

Alfredo Camisa Urban Alphabet S, 1959 printed 2005
Alfredo Camisa
Urban Alphabet S, 1959 printed 2005
Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper, 305 x 405 mm

Tate Modern, Room 3 of Structure and Clarity, Level 4
Admission Free
Open every day until 12 April 2014, from 10.00-18.00 and until 22.00 on Friday and Saturday
For public information call +44 (0)20 7887 8888, visit, [email protected]

Now open at Tate Modern, Italian Modernist Photography is a free display of rare prints documenting key moments in 20th century Italian photography. These pioneering photographs are selected from a group of 40 recently acquired for the nation under the Cultural Gifts Scheme and allocated to Tate. The acquisition is the first time the scheme has been used to bring works into Tate’s collection.

Dating from the late 1930s to the early 1960s, the works in this display represent some of the most innovative movements in Italian photography by four key figures in its development: Giuseppe Cavalli (1904-1961), Luigi Veronesi (1908-1998), Piergiorgio Branzi (b.1928) and Alfredo Camisa (1927-2007). The photographs include atmospheric scenes of beaches and alleyways, images of lettering against industrial backgrounds, and experimental abstract compositions of light and shape.

Italian Modernist Photography showcases the varied styles that developed in post-war Italy, and explores the different photo-clubs through which Italian artists shared ideas and organised exhibitions. One club, La Bussola, approached photography as an autonomous art form of rigorous composition and technique, as seen in the work of Veronesi and Cavalli. Cavalli later established another club, La Misa, with younger photographers such as Branzi and Camisa, who employed a more subjective, social documentary approach in order to capture the conditions of life in an industrialising nation.

The prints were generously gifted by Massimo Prelz Oltramonti, who acquired the majority of them directly from the artists or their estates. The works demonstrate how Italian photography played a ground-breaking role in the post-war cultural landscape. Since 2010, Tate has acquired work by over 160 international photographers. The dramatic increase reflects photography’s ever more important role in contemporary artistic practice and international visual culture. Nearly 3,000 photographic works from around the world have joined Tate’s collection in this period, with over 1,000 more already promised as gifts.

Massimo Prelz Oltramonti said: “It is with pleasure that I see a number of works by the most important Italian photographers entering the collection of a leading institution such as Tate. Italian photography is rarely seen in museums around the world, but this display demonstrates why it deserves its place in the history of modern art alongside more recognised names and schools.”

Sir Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate, said: “Since 2000 Tate has made a strong commitment to photography, and our success relies on the generosity of gifts such as this. We are delighted to bring this very significant group of Italian photographs into the collection, displaying them initially at Tate Modern and later across theUK.”

Italian Modernist Photography is curated by Simon Baker, Curator of Photography and International Art, Tate and Emma Lewis, Curatorial Assistant, International Art, Tate Modern.



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