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Luigi Ghirri, Claude Nori: The Force of Friendship


Yes, I have nostalgia for our youth, Luigi died at the age of 49 on February 14, 1992, so when I think of him, I cannot help but go back emotionally to this privileged period. The portrait we sketch of us can be overly idealized, full of energy, a little crazy, that of a tribe still intact who thought the world in pictures, accompanied by singers, artists, writers with this immoderate taste for poetry, discussions until the early morning, football games in the streets of small outlying towns, trips to the banks of the Po to spend a Sunday together. Have I been the friend of a genius? this question with no real answer is left open but I am sure that Luigi would not have totally dodged it and that his answer “my scherzi! “, you’re kidding ! would have implied that he believed it. So, I do not regret the genius but the disappearance of my Italian brother, too early out of my life and I miss him.

When the viewfinder of Luigi’s camera finally froze on the horizon, the times began to change imperceptibly and the photography we had experienced as a philosophy and so much loved for its share of magic, mystery and Truth began its transformation to free itself by entering the era of the digital world in which images are accomplished in vain before our eyes as a double, a curtain that masks a present too worrying and a real intolerable, indigestible and raw.

For the past few months, Luigi had stood back, with a gardener’s hat on his head and a fork in his hand to use what remained of his vitality on his garden, his house in Roncocesi, for his wife Paola and his tiny daughter Adele. He dreamed of creating still lifes in the chiaroscuro of the attic a little like the painter Giorgio Morandi, whom he loved so much, and who traversed the world with a few objects placed on a table, his brushes and his colors, protected by the affection of his two sisters.

Surveyor, conceptual artist, photographer, theorist, publisher, exhibition organizer, Luigi transformed in just over twenty years Italian photography in his country and abroad. Thanks to his vivacity, his playfulness, his curiosity and his culture always in movement, drawn from books, albums, and meetings around his home, he led in his wake so many intellectuals, thinkers and artists. But more than photography, he participated in changing the way we looked at the world thanks to an economy of technical means, an apparent simplicity of forms, without scuffles, a calm and luminous observation that gave dignity to the objects and places of the world, as if we saw them for the first time in a sort of revelation connected with our lived experience, our memories and our history.

Each photograph of Luigi Ghirri is crossed by a thought that surface gently as a caress, which does not rush anything but causes an emotion, a questioning, a sentimental trigger with a slight complicit smile, as if the author wanted to keep to himself, to stay in the background, fade before the obviousness in front of his eyes, touches our own eyes.

The artist as the philosopher should disturb and bring interrogation to access to the truth. For Bergson, art is the expression of pure reality, “bared” and not an illusion or a sweetened imitation of nature to free ourselves from our sinister condition and the conventions that bind man to objects  only for their usefulness.

As early as the seventies, Luigi Ghirri stated several times that “photography was first and foremost a way of thinking about photography” but he did not stop thinking in images, a more creative and entertaining way for him to philosophize, than the handling of concepts. His work in series and sequences, his books conceived as a poetic sequence always leave room for emotions, to a part of our childhood still alive in us, to landscapes so distant and so close, real or fantasized.


Claude Nori, L’Amico Infinito
Éditions Contrejour

Claude Nori, L’Amico Infinito
February 12th to June 2nd
Jeu de Paume
1 Place de la Concorde
75008 Paris

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