To be held at the 29 Arts in Progress gallery and running through March 25, 2023, the “Gian Paolo Barbieri: Unconventional” show will include an exclusive selection of colored images and unseen photographs by Barbieri.
The exhibit will flank images of top models and celebrities in key advertising campaigns Barbieri photographed throughout the years for brands such as Versace, Vivienne Westwood, Valentino, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Gianfranco Ferré, among others. The goal is to also offer a glimpse of the lesser-known work of the photographer and spotlight the link to the worlds of art and cinema in his iconography.
For instance, for a Dolce Vita-inspired shoot for the Io Donna magazine in Rome in 1997, Barbieri portrayed model Eva Herzigova wrapped in a Krizia dress under the pictures of Alfred Hitchcock — one of his favorite directors — and Italian movie icon Gina Lollobrigida.
On a personal note, the exhibition will closely follow the launch of a docu-film on Barbieri’s life and work, which will be screened in movie theaters in Italy next month. Dubbed “L’uomo e la bellezza,” or “The man and the beauty” in English, the 75-minute film directed by Emiliano Scatarzi will include interviews with the likes of Dolce & Gabbana, Monica Bellucci, Rita Airaghi for Fondazione Ferrè and Giuseppe Zanotti, among others.
The documentary premiered at the Biografilm Festival 2022 in Bologna in June, when it scooped the Audience Award in the Art & Music category. After the Italian rollout, it will launch internationally on Sky Arts starting from Jan. 23.
Born in Milan in 1935, Barbieri is one of the most influential photographers in fashion. He hails from a family of textile wholesalers and it was in his father’s warehouse that Barbieri started to become accustomed to fashion.
He quickly moved to the world of theater, becoming an actor, operator and costume designer. American noir cinema has served among his biggest inspirations, informing his use of light. As he never attended photography school, he conducted experiments in his basement with light bulbs slipped into the pipe of a stove.
After moving to Rome, Barbieri accepted a work offer in Paris, beginning his career in fashion photography as assistant to Harper’s Bazaar’s Tom Kublin for a brief period. In 1964 he returned to Milan, opening his first photographic studio, where he started to work for outlets including Novità, the magazine that in 1966 would become Vogue Italia. From that moment his collaboration with Condé Nast was forged, further extending to international editions as well including American Vogue, Vogue Paris and Vogue Germany as well as Vanity Fair and GQ through the years.