Vitali’s large format images of sun-kissed seascapes – often taken from soaring cliff tops or 20ft-high scaffolds assembled specifically for the task – revealed layer upon layer of intrigue in their dissection of the intricacies of human interaction and social detachment, and were to cement Vitali’s status as one of the most influential contemporary photographers.
‘I hope, I would like people to understand that there are different layers of significance’, he explains of his images. ‘And 99 per cent of the beach pictures that I see around, there is only one layer of significance’.

The idea that the legacy he leaves will be one of aesthetics and one-dimensional artifice is clearly one he loathes. ‘I think I always had a problem that so many people – even the people that buy the pictures, even the collectors – don’t really go to the bottom of the story. And sometimes they spend quite a lot of money and they don’t really go to the core of what I’m really trying to say.’ He continues, ‘When somebody asks me where a picture was taken, for me it’s just a disaster. It’s defeat. Because the pictures are not about the place. They’re not about the colours. They’re not about beauty or prettiness. They’re about us, they’re about our society.’

David Paw, “Beached: Massimo Vitali's imposing sandscapes at Ronchini Gallery“ in WallPaper*, May 17, 2016.
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Massimo Vitali: Life’s a Beach

The difference between my picture and somebody else’s pictures is in their making. It is documentary photography, but it is also art and my real...

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