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08 June 2024 - 19 January 2025, Villa MALPENSATA, Lugano

The Image of the Empresente. FOSCO MARAINI. A Retrospective

The MUSEC in Lugano celebrates the photography of Fosco Maraini, twenty years after his death, with the largest retrospective that has ever been dedicated to him, the result of a research project launched two years ago that has involved the main institutions that preserve and enhance his work from the very beginning. It is thus possible to definitively assign to Maraini the role he deserves in the history of photography and, at the same time, to reflect on several levels on the fundamental values of an art form that today, faced with the new frontiers of technology, questions its very substance. A reflection aimed at underlining how every representation of reality, be it concrete or abstract, only makes sense in time if it is able to restore a spiritual universe and an original vision of the world. 
The exhibition at Villa Malpensata in Lugano presents 223 photographs, some of them previously unpublished, taken between 1928 and 1971 in Europe and Asia. The choice of the photographs is the result of an in-depth exploration of Maraini's photographic archives, from the hundreds of illustrated publications that first made it possible to define the chapters with which to structure the project, to the thousands of negatives conserved at the Gabinetto Vieusseux in Florence. Taking into account the ‘discoveries’ in progress, the missing or unusable negatives and the comparative choices necessary to guarantee harmony and visual coherence, the selection thus took shape. The itinerary of the exhibition curated by Francesco Paolo Campione, director of MUSEC, restores the facets of Maraini's photography: a photography of men and cultures; of landscapes that open onto infinity; of interior architectures in which the secret geometries of the inner world reverberate; of details that are revealed amidst the plots of a reality interpreted with rare intelligence and described with a cultured and extremely fine aesthetic. They are images ‘seized all'empresente’, as Maraini liked to say with one of her surprising neologisms. Images, that is, caught in that unrepeatable moment in which the eye is given to perceiving the movements of the heart and soul. 

Maraini locandina

Foto gallery


The exhibition comes with a catalogue in Italian published by Skira and edited by Francesco Paolo Campione. It includes all the photographs in the exhibition and an additional section of six previously unpublished portraits of Anna Magnani, taken during the shooting of the film Volcano (1949). The volume includes eight thematic in-depth studies, an anthology of texts by Maraini on photography, the testimonies of his daughters and widow, and a wealth of apparatuses that make it a reference work for future studies on Fosco Maraini.

Francesco Paolo Campione (ed.), L’immagine dell’empresente. Fosco Maraini. Una retrospettiva, Skira (Esovisioni/14), Milan 2024,  616 pages. 23 full-page three-colour illustrations full-page, 230 catalogue’s ill. (214 in three-colour and 16 in colour). ISBN 978-88-572-5165-3. CHF/€ 72. 

Cover Maraini