Mario Giacomelli

Born in 1925 (Senigallia, Italie) and died in 2000

Mario Giacomelli was born in 1925 in Italy, in Senigallia, where he spent his life and died in 2000. In 1934, following his father’s passing, his mother took a job as a laundress in a hospice forthe elderly. He started working in 1938 in a printing house, showing great interest for the typographic characters. During the war, the publishing studio is destroyed but he rebuilds it, going back to work and in his free time, painting abstract compositions (from which a certain materiality stands out). He also explores poetry and car racing. > Read more

In 1952, a bad accident during a race convinces him to put an end to this passion. He buys his first camera and immediately feels a link between this object and his activity as a painter. He modifies his camera, creates a photography laboratory and chooses to use a contrasting paper from the very beginning of his work. 

His encounter with Giuseppe Cavalli allows him to enter a group of amateur photographers: MISA, made up of a few significant personalities: Piergiorgio Branzi (Italian), Alfredo Camisa (Italian), Silvio Pellegrini (Spanish). He goes back to the hospice where he goes on photographing for three years (Hospice life), while studying landscape and still life photography. In 1955, he is awarded the first prize at the national exhibition "Castelfranco Veneto". Giacomelli says “the most beautiful pictures are the ones, maybe, that we don’t take, because if we had taken them, we would have spoiled something”. He also takes short trips alone to Scanno, Peschici and Lourdes. In the early 60’s, he meets Luigi Crocenzi, with whom he develops a mutual conception of narrative photography. 

In 1963, John Szarkowski, director of the photography department at the MoMA in New York, buys Giacomelli's photographs of Scanno for the masters collection of international photography. One year later, he produces a new series of photographs devoted to the seasons and the land. Over th course of a year, the photographer keeps up with the life of a family of farmers, documenting it. He then goes back to the hospice and changes the title of his work: Death will come and have your eyes. He photographs cut down tree trunks in a search for abstraction and produces a series of color photographs: The Landscape project, which links photography to poetry and abstract painting. 

From 1969 to 1980, he focuses specifically on lyrical abstraction and produces various series. He continues working on lyric poems and on the Dream (tale). In 1997 he decorates the Italian coffee cups of the Illy collection. His inspirations are, among others, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Osvaldo Licini, Giorgio Morandi, Robert Rauschenberg and Barnett Newman. 

The book Je ne fais pas le photographe, je ne sais pas le faire, published by Contrejour, was published in May 2016.

Spoon River, 1968

Exhibitions at Polka Galerie

Exhibitions at Polka Galerie

Fratelli d'Italia Fratelli d'Italia Fratelli d'Italia Fratelli d'Italia Fratelli d'Italia

Mario Giacomelli

Fratelli d'Italia
May 28 - July 30 2016

Selected Publications

Le noir attend le blanc Le noir attend le blanc Le noir attend le blanc Le noir attend le blanc Le noir attend le blanc

Mario Giacomelli

Le noir attend le blanc
Actes Sud
Photopoche Photopoche Photopoche Photopoche Photopoche

Mario Giacomelli

Actes Sud

Selected Exhibitions

Selected Exhibitions

Mario Giacomelli Empreintes italiennes, Orangerie des musées de Sens, France


Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Japan


Mario Giacomelli, Métamorphoses, National Library, Paris, France


Mario Giacomelli, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Roma, Italy


Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany


Musée de L'Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland


Museum of Fine Art, Houston, Texas, USA


Galerie Municipale du Château d'eau, Toulouse, France


Permanent exhibition, Pouchkine Museum, Moscow, Russia

from 1984

Mario Giacomelli : a Retrospective 1955-1983, Travelling exhibition in United Kingdom and in Ireland

from 1983 to 1985

Victoria & Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom


Museum of Modern Art, New-York, USA