Gabriele Basilico –

by aninsignificantspace

“I think I create a dialogue with the place: I explore it, and it reminds me of things”

His “is not the quick look of the photographer who shoots a scene he sees,” but the look of one who stops in a place to “seemore”.


Gabriele Basilico.

Most Impressive Achievements

In more than thirty years, his career has been filled with important moments and achievements: his artistic production has been exhibited in Italy and abroad, and shown in a large number of photographic books and catalogues, many of which have won international awards. Things to know At the beginning of his career, he was influenced by masters of photography such as Eugene Smithand Billy Brandt, but he soon shifted his focus from events and people to space. Then, he decided to move from the city centre and to shoot urban production areas, whose buildings, apparently unimportant, mediocre, even depressing, actually had hidden life and energy.

He loves neo-realistic movies set in cities; among his favorites, Il posto by Ermanno Olmi. In 2006 he actively worked in cinema, co-directing the cinematography of As the Shadow by Marina Spada: it was presented at the Film Festivals in Venice and inMontpellier, where it won the Prix de la Critique.

Among the photographs he’s most proud of, Le Tréport, shot in 1985: the small French town, set at the mouth of the river Seine, becomes a mysterious place, between the sea and a bright sky full of clouds.

He shoots film using medium format cameras or a Linhof Technikardancamera system on a tripod. Most of his works are in black and white. One of his most original exhibitions took place in 2007/2008, thanks to the Riccardo Catella Foundation: 150 photographs were shown around a building site, in the center of Milan.


He studied Architecture in Milan between the late Sixties and the early Seventies, at the time of the student protests. In 1973, after taking his degree, he started using photography as a means for documenting the political situation, but soon changed his focus. In 1978, during the Easter week-end, he shot an industrial area near via Ripamonti, in Milan, for the Istituto d’Urbanistica: apparently ordinary building gained dignity and identity. “After developing the film negatives and printing the pictures,” he explains, “we fully realized this aesthetic difference.”

His first important exhibition, Milano ritratti di fabbriche, was held in 1983 at the Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea in Milan. The following year, he was the only Italian artist to take part into theMission Photographique de la Datar, a research project on the French landscape.

Another key moment in his career is Berlin 1991: just one year after the end of a long civil war, he portrayed the Lebanese capital city for a project promoted by the writer Dominique Eddé. The goal was to document reality without political or social intentions.

During the following years, he worked in Italy and in Europe: among the most important projects, a research on Berlin’s urban area in 1999; an inquiry on Valencia in 2000; L. R. 19/98 in 2001, documenting abandoned urban areas in Emilia Romagna. In 2003 he went back to the north of France and in Beirut, portrayed the most modern buildings in Portugal and took part into the 5th International Biennial for Architecture and Design in São Paulo. From 2004 to 2006 he worked in several Italian cities (Naples, Mantua, Bari and Reggio Emilia, among the others), in Barcelona, Lisbon and in the Principality of Monaco.

In 2007 he worked for the first time in the U.S., in the Silicon Valley, on assignment for the Department of Photography of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In the same year, he started the project Vertiginous Moscow and portrayed Rome in a photographic series unusually shot in color. Then he moved to Turin, where he witnessed the renovation of Teatro Carignano, to the Langhe area, to Puglia and to Istanbul.

Main Awards

In 1990 he received the Prix Mois de la Photo in Paris, while in 1996 he won the famous Osella d’Oro award as Best Architecture Photographer at the sixth Architecture Biennale in Venice. In 2000 he was given the INU award by the Istituto Nazionale di Urbanistica; after two years, his volume Berlin won the PhotoEspaña award for the best photography book of the year. In 2007 he received the International Award for Architecture Photography by the Astroc Foundation in Madrid.

Current projects

The exhibition Istanbul 05.010, a selection of thirty images of the Turkish city, shot in 2005 and 2010, can be visited at Palazzo delle Stelline in Milan until December 2010. At the Giorgio Cini Foundationin Venice, Le arti di Piranesi is open to the public until November 2010: Basilico gave his contribution with photographs of places dear to the architect, engraver and vedutista who lived in the 18th century.

He said

“Photography can work as a non-scientific, committed, ‘artistic’ look, revealing a reality which is probably protected, hidden in the world around us.”

We love him because

As an acknowledged master of Italian photography, he still influences the artists who want to work on the urban landscape. Educated as an architect, he gives a precise and sharp, intense and unconventional vision of the world.

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Gabriele Basilico –