MILAN — Giorgio Armani is staging another exhibit at his Silos space, to be opened to the public on March 29 after a cocktail event the evening before. Called “The Beats and The Vanities, Larry Fink,” it will run until the end of July.
“I believe Fink has a very captivating point of view,” Armani said. “You feel you are there with him, observing a private moment. The people portrayed in his photos have lowered their guard and seem unaware of the camera, and this is surprising because he must have been very close to them. The approach is clearly very discreet because the images are spontaneous and natural.”
The exhibit comprises 125 original black-and-white photographs, of which 54 are from Fink’s book “The Beats,” chronicling his hitchhiking trip through America in the late Fifties. The other 71 are from “The Vanities,” his portfolio of images interpreting Vanity Fair’s Oscar parties and Hollywood events in the 2000 to 2009 period. This is the first time they are all displayed together.
“The pictures have more in common than might at first be obvious: from two different very, very opposing levels of egotism, ‘The Beats’ and ‘The Vanities’ live within the same valley. Each set of participants fashions themselves to be on the top of the mountain of contribution,” Fink said. “It is great that Armani has recognized and understood this and it is the first time both collections of images will hang in the same space. I understand this is also the first time that the Armani/Silos has presented a one-man photography exhibition, and that is indeed an honor. The images were made 45 years from each other. ‘The Beats’ were photographed when I was a young romantic, ‘The Vanities’ when I was — not hardened — but a humanist ironist. Therein, the bodies of work have different aesthetics and moral calculations for all that come to see.”
“I find his ability to capture form and line in such a fluid way something I can really relate to as a designer,” Armani observed. “Fink is a jazz fan, and you can almost view these images in terms of musical composition — people in flow, surprising us, possessing an un-self-conscious sensuality. There is much that a fashion designer recognizes here.”
“I like to tell a story as it is, as it is lived,” Fink said. “I seek various psychological elements within the same scene and I try to combine them, not necessarily in a harmonious way, but in a fusion of different meanings. This is how stories are created, so that they can be told with a single image or a long-term project. I started photographing pushed by an almost pathological curiosity. Photography allowed me to always be front row, to go where things happen, to explore places I would probably never have entered without a camera.”
Works by Fink, now 76, have been displayed at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of Modern Art. In Europe, he has also had one-man shows at the Musée de l’Élysée in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the Musée de la Photographie in Charleroi, Belgium. The recipient of many awards and two John Simon Guggenheim Fellowships and two National Endowment for the Arts, Individual Photography Fellowships, Fink has also been teaching for more than 50 years at Yale University, Cooper Union and Bard College, where he is now an honorary professor.
“The Beats and The Vanities, Larry Fink” follows the photo exhibition called “Emotions of the Athletic Body,” unveiled in September during Milan Fashion Week, displaying images by the likes of Aldo Fallai, Kurt and Weston Markus, Tom Munro, David Sims and Richard Phibbs.
The Silos space was unveiled in April 2015. Armani said he didn’t like to refer to the space as a museum.
“The plan for the Silos has always been that it should be a home for temporary exhibitions as well as for my permanent collection of work,” he explained. “It is also a center for learning, and as part of its mission to educate it should host work that inspires and enlightens people.”
The Silos building, built in 1950, was originally a granary of the Nestlé company. After the renovation, it covers around 48,600 square feet on four levels. Armani, whose Tadao Ando-designed theater stands on the opposite side of the street, conceived and oversaw the renovation project himself.
The building is modeled after a basilica layout, an open space four floors high with two levels of naves overlooking it on either side. The ceilings are painted black in contrast to the gray cement floors, keeping the rough edge of the building as it was.