Luigi Veronesi

Photo n.152

1940, printed 1970s

On loan

ACMI (Melbourne, Australia): Pudong

Luigi Veronesi 1908–1998
Original title
Photo n.152
Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper
Unconfirmed: 320 × 298 mm
Accepted under the Cultural Gifts Scheme by HM Government from Massimo Prelz Oltramonti and allocated to Tate 2015


This is one of a group of five photograms in Tate’s collection by the Italian photographer Luigi Veronesi (Tate P13674P13678). They are representative of the experimental formal techniques that he focused on throughout his photographic career. Construction 1938 (Tate P13674) and Untitled (Spiral) 1938 (Tate P13677) are photograms made by arranging objects on photographic paper and then exposing this to light to create the image. The results are abstract studies in pattern and in which lines, dots and spirals make it difficult to decipher the original source of the image. Photo n.145 1940, printed 1970s (Tate P13675), Photo n.152 1940, printed 1970s (Tate P13676) and Kinetic Study 1941 (Tate P13678) are, as the title of the latter indicates, studies involving movement in which Veronesi experimented with long exposures and moving either the camera, light source or object to ‘draw’ a shape with light. These works are typical of Veronesi’s experimental approach and the manner in which he applied lessons in abstraction and geometry from other media to photography. As he became involved with modernist sensibilities of the early twentieth-century, particularly the ‘New Vision’ of his friend and Bauhaus member László Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946), Veronesi experimented with line, form and darkroom techniques such as solarisation, micro-photographs and direct or double exposures.

Veronesi was central to the development of photography in Italy in the inter-war period and immediately following the Second World War. Born in Milan, he became involved in photography following his move to Paris in 1932, where he was able to engage with the work of the international avant-garde from which he had until that point been detached under the Fascist regime in Italy. A prominent figure in many artistic disciplines and especially graphic design and painting, Veronesi was deeply interested in geometry and mathematics and joined the Abstraction-Création group at the invitation of Lucio Fontana (1899–1968) in 1934. Working at the cutting-edge of photographic practice, Veronesi played a central role in the two forums that were key to the distribution and progression of photography in Italy at the time: architecture and design magazines, and photo-clubs. He was a key figure in the production in 1943 of the publication Fotografia which was distributed by the architecture and design almanac Domus (and is now considered to be the most complete statement on modernist photographic practices in Italy during this period). In 1947, together with Giuseppe Cavalli (1904–1961) and others, he formed the photography group La Bussola which sought to distance photography from traditional associations with documentary and reportage, and promote its status as an autonomous art form. The group was considered to be at the avant-garde of formalist practice in Italian photography at the time.

The photographs in Tate’s collection were purchased by Massimo Prelz Oltramonti, one of the foremost collectors of twentieth and twenty-first century Italian photography, from whose collection they have been gifted to Tate.

Further reading
Germano Celant (ed.), The Italian Metamorphosis 1943–1968, exhibition catalogue, Guggenheim Museum, New York 1994.
Viewpoints: Italy in Black and White, exhibition catalogue, The Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, London 2005.
Italian Photography 1930–1970s, exhibition catalogue, Manezh Central Exhibition Centre, Moscow 2007.

Emma Lewis
November 2014

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