Mario Giacomelli, The Sensitive Landscapes

Mario Giacomelli
Senigallia, Italia
43° 43′ 00″ N, 13° 13′ 00″ E

Mario Giacomelli is a 20th century Italian photographer who has explored many subjects. Among these he made several series of landscapes, relating their changes, the memory of a place with its own identity and destiny.

Between ink and photography
Mario Giacomelli (1925-2000) was a 20th century Italian photographer. Born in Senigallia, a coastal town in central Italy, he started working early, in 1938, at The Typography Giunchedi. Besides its work as a typesetter, he began to paint and write poetry. Although the typography studio was destroyed during the war, he took part in its reconstruction and continued to work there until 1950 when he decided to open his own typography studio. Continuing his work with the fascinating black ink, The Typography Marchigiana via Mastai 5, opened the same year and later became a space of choice for artists from all over the world. 
It was also in the 1950s that he was introduced to photography. In 1952, he went to the beach after he bought his first camera and began to shoot. As the sea was a moving element he began to move the camera to follow it, a process that allowed him to reveal that it was a living art, while being an immediate medium. This activity was for him very linked to his artistic approach as a painter, in the compositions, but especially in the sense that he had to maintain a very strong relationship with what he was doing. He then trained by photographing in the hospice where his mother was working.
 He quickly set up his own photography laboratory and made the choice from the beginning to use a much contrasted photo paper, which will mark his work. One year after he began to take pictures, he joined a group of amateur photography including Giuseppe Cavalli, the MISA group.  This entry was decisive in developing his style, flourishing in a neo-realism approach, experimenting with bold compositions, continuing his work on contrast, but it also helped the diffusion of his photos.
Photographing the Italian landscape
His first experiences of landscape photography date from these years with Paesaggi (Landscapes). He began to structure series with a style of “reportage”. It’s also from the mid 50s that he started to develop an approach close to land art. Being interested in the seasons and in the land, he asked peasants, paying them, to create precise signs in the ground with their tractor. Acting directly on the landscape, he enhances it and underlines it during the development process. He made several series on the landscapes, showing the seasons as in La terra che muore (o Storie di terra) or diversifying the points of view as in Presa di coscienza sulla natura.
Giacomelli has throughout his career diversified his subjects, continuing the experimentation of narrative photography, photographing almost exclusively in black and white, people, old people, poor people, hills, farms, lands. He has staged a language of the territory highlighting its roughness, its contrasts, its changes. He is a privileged witness of his time who knew how to share the contrast of Italian life and territory while impregnating his work with a constant reflection on memory, mortality and existence.
In the series Presa di coscienza sulla natura he took pictures from a Piper plane of the fields of the Italian countryside. Although they are supposed to represent landscapes photos, for Mario Giacomelli the interpretation goes beyond. By the signs of the cultivated fields you can read the existence, the memory of the place. The wrinkles of the landscape send everyone back to his own existence. By photographing the external immensity, he reflects in his images the internal complexity of the man who is confronted to his own identity, to his own destiny, to his own memory. It is the genius loci, the spirit of place that touches us. This phenomenology of the place is readable in the lines of the landscapes, a multitude of different paths guiding us towards sensitivity, desire, emotion, reflection, introspection.
Mario Giacomelli Paesaggi Landscape
Mario Giacomelli, Paesaggio, 1956/70’s, Gelatin Silver Print, Courtesy Archivio Mario Giacomelli © Rita Giacomelli
Mario Giacomelli, La terra che muore, 1955, Gelatin Silver Print, Courtesy Archivio Mario Giacomelli © Rita Giacomelli
Giacomelli Metamorfosi Landscape
Mario Giacomelli, Metamorfosi della terra, 1956/70’s, Gelatin Silver Print, Courtesy Archivio Mario Giacomelli © Rita Giacomelli
Mario Giacommeli
Mario Giacomelli, Presa di coscienza sulla natura, 70’s / 1983, Gelatin Silver Print, Courtesy Archivio Mario Giacomelli © Rita Giacomelli
Mario Giacommelli Presa di coscienza sulla natura Landscape
Mario Giacomelli, Presa di coscienza sulla natura, 70’s/1985, Gelatin Silver Print, Courtesy Archivio Mario Giacomelli © Rita Giacomelli

The complete series are available on the website of the Mario Giacomelli Archives.

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