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Fondazione MAST : The MAST Collection – A Visual Alphabet of Industry, Work and Technology


Fondazione MAST presents The MAST Collection – A Visual Alphabet of Industry, Work and Technology; the first exhibition of works selected from the Foundation’s collection showcasing over 500 works, including photographs, albums, and videos from 200 great Italian and international photographers, as well as anonymous artists, curated by Urs Stahel. The exhibition, which draws from Frondazione MAST’s collection of over 6,000 images, acts as a visual testament of the history of the world of industry and of work.

Given its complexity, the exhibition is divided into 53 chapters dedicated to the numerous concepts illustrated in the works displayed. The exhibition takes the form of an alphabet that unfolds on the walls of the three exhibition spaces (Fondazione MAST’s PhotoGallery, Foyer and Level 0), it highlights a conceptual system that goes from A for Abandoned and Architecture to W for Waste, Water, Wealth.

“The alphabet was created to bring together intersections between the distant and near gaze, texts, and the moments of the snapshots, drawing attention inside of the works,” explains curator, Urs Stahel. “The same happens with the images and photographers involved. The 53 chapters feel like constellations in which old and young, rich and poor, healthy and sick, factory compounds and factory towns live together. Here, different attitudes, different perceptions and figurations come together. Documentary photography meets staged, conceptual art, old papers and processes like albumen prints meet the latest digital prints and inkjet prints, coal black prints meet bright and colorful prints. Bleak, heavy industrial landscapes collide with “bright”, high-tech machines, sweaty labour and manual dexterity collides with digital worlds, with automated data processing, or manifestations on the market and market crashes, with migration and office work.”

Some of the artists on display include Man Ray, Dorothea Lange, Sebastiao Salgado, Max Alpert, Gabriele Basilico, Gianni Berengo Gardin and Henry Cartier-Bresson

Chronologically, only the 19th century has been separated, showcasing the early period of industrialization and the history of photography. The themes are interspersed with portraits of labourers, controllers, the unemployed, work seekers, and migrants. “The parallels between industry, photography, and modernism are striking. Photography is a key child of industrialization and yet it also simultaneously represents its most powerful visual report, memory, and commentary”, continues Stahel.

The exhibition also documents the technological progress and analogue efforts of both the industrial world and photography. From industry, photography, and modernism we have moved on to high-technology, image generation machines, and post-post-modernism; or rather, to a kind of Modernism 4.0. From a simple depiction of reality to images generated by artificial intelligence.

In the early 2000s, Fondazione MAST created a space dedicated especially to photography of industry and work, acquiring images from auction houses, private collectors, art galleries, photographers, and artists. The Foundation’s holdings which already included films, negatives on glass and film, photographs, albums, and catalogues produced in the plants of Coesia Holding as far back as the early twentieth century, expanded and stretched beyond the parameters of promotional and documentary material regarding the industrial Group’s companies. The MAST Collection showcases some of these works.



Paola Agosti, Richard Avedon, Gabriele Basilico, Gianni Berengo Gardin, Margaret Bourke-White, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Thomas Demand, Robert Doisneau, Walker Evans, Luigi Ghirri, Mario Giacomelli, Mimmo Jodice, André Kertesz, Josef Koudelka, Dorothea Lange, Erich Lessing, Herbert List, David Lynch, Don McCullin, Nino Migliori, Tina Modotti, Ugo Mulas, Vik Muniz, Walter Niedermayr, Helga Paris, Thomas Ruff, Sebastião Salgado, August Sanders, W. Eugene Smith, Edward Steichen, Thomas Struth, Carlo Valsecchi, and Edward Weston.


The MAST Collection – A Visual Alphabet of Industry, Work and Technology
February 10th – August 28th, 2022
Fondazione MAST
Via Speranza, 42 – Bologna, IT 40133




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