"Marseille isn't a city for tourists. There's nothing to see. Its beauty can't be photographed. It can only be shared. It's a place where you have to take sides, be passionately for or against. Only then can you see what there is to see. And you realize, too late, that you're in the middle of a tragedy. An ancient tragedy in which the hero is death. In Marseille, even to lose you have to know how to fight."
Jean-Claude Izzo, Total Chaos.

Read More



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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Matthew Trygve Tung


We met Massimo Vitali for the first time in the spring of 1994. Chiasso was on his way to Germany, and at that time he travelled a lot - for love - from his home in Marina di Pietrasanta in Italy. During one of his visits to the gallery, he showed us his first images, the kernels of what would become the "Spiagge italiane" project. These works contained black-and-white landscapes of panoramic proportions, showing riverbanks in Eastern Germany as viewed from the water, maybe from a boat.

Read More

Daniela and Guido Giudici

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.”

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Benrubi Gallery