The photographs gathered together in this exhibition present a small selection of the works I have bought over the last fifteen years. Many of them are well-known masterworks, other ones are less well known, but all of them have been carefully selected. My personal collection is the result of a precise project: my activity as a collector is a fragment of a larger jigsaw-puzzle, and strictly linked to my activity as a photographic historian, teacher, publisher, and curator. Nothing in my collection is there by accident.
Why did I start studying and exhibiting works produced in the thirty years between 1948 and 1978? For three different reasons, at least. First, because in that period — till television took off — photography played a prominent social role, much more important than today. All news was illustrated with photographs, so photography had the opportunity to represent the transformations of society and lifestyle in a period characterized by the so-called ‘economic boom’. Second, it was at that time that many youngsters started thinking of photography as a job, not merely as a hobby. They had the great opportunity to make photography an intellectual activity — but sadly, they missed it. Third, between the Fifties and the Sixties a great variety of new cameras, equipment, and, most of all, high quality printing papers were put on the market. If you compare a vintage print of those year with a modern print from the same subject, you immediately notice how deeper and richer the tones were, grays and blacks, in that period.
I am pleased to present in this exhibition some of the photographs I have loved most, and I have considered them more as good companions than great works of art. The names of their authors are, in many cases, world-renowned: Gianni Berengo Gardin, Mario De Biasi, Tazio Secchiaroli, Mario Giacomelli, among others. It was quite difficult to choose how to represent each of them. Any sacrifice would be hard to justify. Making choices is always a difficult task — but no serious scholar can avoid that responsability.