Luigi Ghirri’s Brilliant Photographic Puzzles

Jul 08, 2016 897

I look at Luigi Ghirri's work daily: There's a postcard reproduction of one of his photographs on my fridge. It depicts four women, turned away from us and toward a mountainous landscape. They could be taking in an actual vista — the perspective is correct — but the mountains and their intervening lakes have text superimposed on them, and so we realize the women are standing before an image of a landscape, either a poster or a mural.

Ghirri took the photograph in Salz­burg, Austria, in 1977. I find it reassuring, amusing (that slight stutter in parsing it), simultaneously simple and complex in ways that are difficult to explain. Luigi Ghirri was one of the outstanding photographers of his generation. His work was largely made in Europe, and most of it focused on a small area of northern Italy, the region of Emilia-Romagna, where he was born and where he died, in 1992, of a heart attack at the too-young age of 49.

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