Milan does not only belong to the Milanese. Milan belongs to everyone. Milan was also, and above all, the city of Mario De Biasi, as documented in the exhibition 'Mario De Biasi e Milano. Extraordinary Edition', from tomorrow until 18 February 2024 at the Museo Diocesano Carlo Maria Martini. Curated by Maria Vittoria Baravelli and Silvia De Biasi, organised and produced by Mondadori Portfolio, in collaboration with the Diocesan Museum of Milan and with the patronage of the City of Milan, the exhibition celebrates the centenary of the photographer's birth and tells the story of a love, the one between De Biasi and his adopted city, through 100 photographs, proofs and unpublished shots.
Milan at the centre
Bellunese by birth, Mario De Biasi had chosen Milan as his city of adoption and to Milan, where he worked for Mondadori at Epoca and where his family lived, he returned again and again. "He observed his Milan, capturing its most characteristic and most unusual aspects, its traditions and most iconic places, the everyday life and attitudes of its inhabitants, its curiosities and poetry. This is why in De Biasi's photos, which tell us about 'his' Milan, we now glimpse 'our' Milan, a kaleidoscopic city with a thousand facets, a city with which one can still fall in love,' explains Nadia Righi, Director of the Museo Diocesano Carlo Maria Martini in Milan.
A curious gaze
"De Biasi's gaze suggests patience with our hectic, ever-moving metropolis, incites us to stop and observe, to pay more attention, and leads us to reflect not only on what we have been but above all on what we want to be today. This exhibition is therefore not just a tribute to an extraordinary photographer, but much more,' concludes Righi. A lucid and evocative gaze, capable of narrating a controversial moment in Italian history with immediacy and originality. In the plots of his shots one can read the historical and cultural changes of the country, which in the 1950s and 1960s was settling on a renewed cultural identity.
A photograph is always born twice
Technique, talent, skill, intuition, curiosity, decision, courage, vision, poetry and a desire to know represent the stylistic signature of his photography. Through which he visually describes Milan: the cathedral, the gallery, the parks, the navigli. "One hundred years after the birth of Mario De Biasi, the man who, according to Enzo Biagi, was the only one to always propose 'the right photograph', this exhibition aims to investigate the man through his private, sentimental and narrative eye. A visual essay on his epoch-making manner and a memoir of future memories because, as De Biasi himself said long before the internet and social networks, recalling his past as a deportee in Nuremberg, 'a photograph is always born twice: when it is taken and when we are really able to remember it'," says Maria Vittoria Baravelli, curator of the exhibition.
A look at the Milan of the 1950s and 1960s, researched and documented by Mario De Biasi with the same passion and curiosity 'with which he set out on a journey to unknown destinations. He tirelessly walked around Milan in search of previously unpublished images of his beloved city. There are some well-known images in the exhibition, but there are many unpublished shots that testify to an innate capacity for observation (such as the photos of the first installations at the Fiera Campionaria) and a desire to photograph in all kinds of weather (such as the photos taken on a foggy day or in the rain). These skills, dictated by passion, were fundamental to his success in the profession of reporter,' recalls Silvia De Biasi, Mario's daughter and curator of the exhibition, who preserves and manages her father's archive.
The recovery of an archive
"The first meeting with Mario De Biasi took place in December 2011. It was the occasion in which we approached not only the master's work, which we already knew, but the man and his genius. An artistic ability that found expression in photography and the decorative arts that had gradually taken the place of reportage and his wandering in search of visual cues. During our meeting at his home, where our wish was to share the project of recovering the archive from the excellence of his material, we were able to observe how he knew how to combine active listening with creative work. He was a man who knew how to follow his interlocutors and transform stories into images that spoke directly to the soul,' explain Daniele Fiasca, Mondadori Portfolio director, and Elisabetta De Simone, Mondadori Portfolio executive manager.
From Milan to the Moon
The exhibition closes with the section "From Milan to the Moon", which brings together a precious selection of photographs that Mario De Biasi took on his non-European travels: from Africa to the Budapest Revolution, from Japan to Siberia to New York, and even the documentation of the preparations for the Apollo 11 moon landing. Mondadori Portfolio catalogue.