Changing Status

“When I first started taking pictures, beaches had no connotations. They were places where people could not think about anything, and be totally at ease.” Today, the same beaches are still holiday destinations, he says, but they are also the troubling backdrops of the European migrant crisis. For Vitali, an artist who has spent the last two decades documenting holidaymakers along the coastlines of the continent, as well as further afield, the beach has become a looking glass into the heart of the lives of Europeans. Of the current political climate, Vitali notes: “There is a vague sense of doom.”


Caolan Blaney

History of Photography

Massimo Vitali: Everyday about 350 million photographs are uploaded on Facebook. Isn’t that a crazy number? Just think of the number of pictures taken every day, incredibly much higher. But: this doesn’t mean that people know more about photography than they did 20 years ago.


Lisa Ortner-Kreil

New Topographics

These landscapes rebalance Vitali’s anthropological studies of human quirks, surfacing unspoken questions about our self-centered modifications of the land. Like the invasive species that we are, not only have we overrun the beaches and clogged up the pristine blue waters, we’ve taken to pouring concrete to make that invasion even easier.


Loring Knoblauch

The Surface where Nothing is Reflected

This image releases us from the danger of the gaze, from the conflict and the spectacle, from the visual tour de force of iconic photography and the ease of minimalism. The image leaves us waiting in front of people that are waiting.


Yann Tostain

Seas the Day

Life’s a beach—but then, unfortunately, you die. There is something ominous in Massimo Vitali’s panned-out, colour drenched photographs of people soaking up the sun: these are not pretty Instagram posts (although you can imagine them being popular there), but reminders of our puny presence against nature’s indomitable grandeur. In the Italian post war photographer’s latest series of work something threatens the breathtaking scenery: us.


Charlotte Jansen

Disturbed Coastal Systems

The tension between human habitat and the natural world is always present in Vitali’s work, yet is even more emphasized in the current pictures. In one, the massive Praia da Torre Fortress shadows a beach in Portugal; in another, the Praia do Moinho juts out into the water, less protective than glowering—though whether it menaces the ocean or the swimmers depends on your point of view. Concrete pools box off becalmed sections of water from adjacent rivers and seas, or a concrete pier juts out beyond a beach, its hard rectangular lines in unavoidable contrast—conflict?—with the sinews of sand and surf. What land is visible is often sere and forbidding: rock cliffs in which wispy shrugs have taken tentative hold, gravelly beaches, lumpy hills covered in dry grass.

Press release of the exhibition "Disturbed Coastal Systems" at the Benrubi Gallery, New York, April 20 - June 17, 2017.


Benrubi Gallery

The Meter of the World

The consumers of free time portrayed by Vitali denounce a dialectic relationship between social or individuals’ needs, and real needs, between the “quality of life” and the “quantity of consumption.”


Stefano Pezzato

Feet in the Water

The crowd reassembled under the lens of Vitali is characterized by its frightening banality. The suspension of the judgement by the artist reinforces this uneasiness: we are in front of as many mysteries as people.


Sophie Blass-Fabiani

Jack Kerouac in Milan, 1966

So, the 28th of September Kerouac came to Italy, for only 76 hours, because he needed 800 dollars to pay the rent and with the other 200 he would pay for part of his mother’s hospital bills. On the plane he drank whiskey which immediately had a bad effect on him; an editorial bureaucrat who was escorting him and whose name I have never known said to him that he was “making an ass of himself”, he was giving a very bad impression, and that by showing up drunk he wouldn’t earn the money of the Italian editor honestly.


Fernanda Pivano

Suspended Spaces

Massimo's view is "panoramic", but it remains immobile. It suggests trips within spaces that look empty, but actually "were emptied". (The space only comes to life one Sunday evening, along a tree-lined riverbank. The Germans take snapshots of each other, leaving their history in the background).


Cesare Colombo