Today we have lost the immense photographer Giovanni Gastel. Gastel is one of the most recognized fashion photographers in Italy. He passed away at 65 from Covid complications.
We have lost a marvelous gentleman that seemed to have landed on earth from another era to share a deep message with us through his art. A man of culture, poet and photographer, Gastel pulled from his major repertoire of references such as theater, classic literature or poetry to create elegant and poetic images that transcend time. His work was focused on the importance of memory. His goal was to elevate and transcend our humanity.
He was born from one of the most aristocratic families in Italy — his mother was Ida Visconti di Modrone, sister of legendary film director Luchino Visconti. Giovanni grew up in a protected world made of beautiful gardens and castles. When he came of age, he faced the reality of the world in a rather brutal way. Italy was facing one of the darkest moments of the country during the “years of Lead” with bombing, kidnapping. He stayed in Italy despite the risks and the targeting of wealthier families and focused on his art.
The Milan artist became one of the most prestigious photographers in the world. In 1997 the Milan Triennale dedicated the first curation by Germano Celant, and in 2002, as part of the event La Kore Fashion Oscar, Giovanni Gastel received the Oscar for photography. He was honorary President of the Associazione Fotografi Italiani Professionisti and permanent member of the Polaroid Museum of Chicago.
Gastel had over 30 exhibitions in Europe and the most recent one The people I like, curated by Uberto Frigerio, gathered a great crowd despite the pandemic. It included over 200 portraits, mainly black and white, famous faces such as Barack Obama.
I had the chance to meet Giovanni through my friend Hinda Silberfeld and was honored to share his work as his gallerist in the USA. In a recent interview that we have not yet published, he shared with me a perspective on this past year of the pandemic: “We understood that we are very weak. And that is very important. You have to remember this all the time. We are not gods. And so, living with the idea of being weak and strengthening the idea of beauty as much as possible can help us a lot.”
Thank you for the profound legacy, master Giovanni Gastel. Now it is up to us to preserve your message and pass it on to future generations.
Marie Audier D’Alessandris
The Selects Gallery