Early Works 1992-1997 is our first book. It is a collection of images that are all personal and formed our first portfolio when we started working together under the moniker of Coppi Barbieri. At the time we were using a Large Format camera, a Sinar 5×7 inches.
This type of camera, which is large and stable, lent itself well to our collaboration, as it allowed us to weigh up every stage of the work, observing reflections and variations of light through the bellow. It was a calm, precise, creative process. We were both involved in all roles, from the development of ideas to the choice of subjects and the lighting techniques.
Transparency film allowed us to control colours and had the advantage that the results were immediate and it did not need to be printed. Colour for us has always been very important, whether creating monochromatic palettes or colour contrasts.
The first experiments were performed with flowers and water.
We immersed the flowers in different containers, usually vases of various shapes. At a certain point we began to use transparent plastic bags.
Inspired by the distorted nude images by Andre’ Kertesz, we became interested in the change of shapes and vortexes that formed due to the swelling and the curves of the bags filled with water. The colours of the flowers disintegrated and amalgamated creating silhouettes like abstract brushstrokes.
There was a whole world to explore around still life. We wanted to bring to this genre what was happening in Fashion Photography. Our contemporary inspiration was mainly the photographic work of Paolo Roversi but also that of Sarah Moon and Javier Vallhonrat. From the past the influence came from the images of Baron Adolph de Meyer and Josef Sudek.
After the water experiments we focused on glassware, everyday objects and metallic cookware caught using powder covered filters hung over the lens of the camera. We were aspiring to create well thought-out, calm compositions.
Our interest was to dematerialize our subjects, making them become pictorial images. Like a series of dresses photographed through muslin fabric stretched on a frame. Backlit, the clothes appeared light and ethereal and the use of a fan made them look alive, each with its own personality.
We felt an affinity to the paintings of Giorgio Morandi and Domenico Gnoli
The format we were using (5×7 inches) had no Polaroid, so we shot the film directly. A few sheets of film, sometimes only one, were taken to the lab that was not too far away. It was a paced process. We were waiting for the film to be processed to see if we needed to carry out any adjustments or changes.
Sometimes we could spend the whole day photographing intensely and there was little contact with the outside world.
This collection of images is the base of our collaboration in photography. Early on we have developed a personal style that we have later applied and evolved in our editorial and commercial work.
It has been a joy and a journey to rediscover these photographs.
Lucilla Barbieri and Fabrizio Coppi
London 6th March 2019
Coppi Barbieri Early Works 1992-1997
is published by Damiani