Not Taken

"It may seem strange, but a long time ago I even ended up in jail for not having taken a picture that the judge said I should have taken, although I don’t want to rehash these sad and painful stories."
— Massimo Vitali

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Massimo Vitali

Photographs of a Man

From the point of view of technique and method, Vitali’s photographs have a far away historic precedent that is little known, that of the commercial photographer Eugene. O. Goldbeck, an exception in the panorama of photography popular between the Twenties and Forties where the names Lewis H. Hine, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, Margaret Bourke-White and Berenice Abbott dominate uncontested.

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Desdemona Ventroni

Painters of Modern Life

It was the art historian Heinrich Wölfflin, a contemporary of Léger, who in his 1915 publication Kunstgeschichtliche Grundbegriffe (Principles of Art History) released the quality of painterliness from the artistic genre of painting, defining it instead as a general stylistic category. Since then it has been clear that painterly thinking is not carried out exclusively in oil on canvas.

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Annelie Lütgens

Visible Social Orders

If it were not for the occasional visibility of a camera or a car (Vitali must have worked to exclude such items from his photographic field), we could be watching them in the second millennium BC—even in deeper prehistory or at the dawn of human time (gathering by the pools at Olduvai, perhaps). And if it were not for our familiarity—our empathetic identification—with the social biped Homo sapiens, we could be observing terns, seals, gazelles, or wolves.

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Whitney Davis

Plateau of Humankind

The plateau has therefore always been a feature that permits an overall view by means of a general view, of observation as theory and supervision. Whoever wishes to lead, to make revelations or inspire has to prove himself or herself a visionary. But he cannot just stubbornly stare ahead; he has to comprehend the panorama of the world in its unity and a whole.

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Bazon Brock

La Rambla

The faces of people walking reflect the characteristic air of distracted caution with which pedestrians in big cities pass each other. The observer wonders about where they are going, what they are thinking and imagining; while as individuals we see ourselves reflected in them.

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Friederike Nymphius

Masquerades as Reality

The traffic in signs is a shifting and constantly reforming visual landscape, a mixture of the histories that form us and the politics that define us. On these journeys and journeyings, a camera has usually preceded us, often accompanies us, and inhabits our material and mental worlds. In the photographic image an imaginary world masquerades as reality, but in that masquerade something of the world’s magical strangeness might reside in the most familiar of encounters: a day at the beach a night at the club.

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Jon Bird

Digital vs. Analog

Massimo Vitali's diptych of the Sao Paolo market in Brazil highlights the dichotomy of digital vs. analogue photography and its various implications. One photograph is taken with analogue film and one with a digital camera, leaving the viewer to contemplate the minimal difference between the two images. The artist's intent is to provoke in the viewer a series of reflections specifically on the medium employed and more generally on the larger idea of representation.

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Alessandro Romanini


A number of large-format Italian views from his famous Beach Series are now on display at Palais Metternich. Due to their ethereal or even surreal exquisiteness, Due Sorelle Motor Boat (2013) and Bassa Trinità Blue Ball (2013) fit in very well with the elegant atmosphere of the Garland Salon. On the other hand, Rosignano Night (1995), packed with a crowd of people, and the somewhat unwieldy Livorno Calafuria (2002) have been installed in the Battle Salon, named after a monumental painting attributed to Nicola Mario Rossi that shows Vienna’s liberation from the Turks in 1683.

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Marcello Farabegoli


In Travelling light: Photography, Travel and Visual Culture, Peter D. Osborne describes the beach as a place on the periphery: "As a site of cultural meanings the holiday beach tends to be associated with the liminal. It stands literally, literally at both the social and geographical edge. It is fluid, part nature and part out, spaced-out, a slip of land where society leaves its slip showing where things split out…" As a separate space, the beach gives individuals the opportunity to relax unencumbered by clothes or quotidian tasks, and as such has long drawn photographers, such as Paul Martin and Weege, focused on capturing the working classes at leisure.

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Matthew Trygve Tung