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Celebrating Paolo di Paolo’s Photographic Tales

Celebrating Paolo di Paolo’s Photographic Tales

Alfonso Licciardi

The Maxxi celebrates photographer Paolo Di Paolo with 250 images, some of which are unpublished, able to tell the extraordinary Italy of the 50s and 60s.

An Italy moved by the post-war need to rebuild, which always appears to us as a film with extraordinary protagonists among writers, actors, artists and ordinary people in their poverty of extras, in a world that still offers nothing.

Paolo di Paolo, Grace Kelly in Monaco
© Archivio Paolo Di Paolo

“In 1954 his life changed radically: he fell in love with the Leica III C camera, he resigned, bought it on installment and started as an amateur photographer, «taking photos for pleasure». He frequented the artistic circles in Rome and came into contact with Gruppo Forma 1: it was his artistic friends who suggested him to offer the photos to the weekly cultural magazine Il Mondo, founded and edited by Mario Pannunzio.” says his biography.

Paolo di Paolo, Subway in New York
© Archivio Paolo Di Paolo
Paolo di Paolo, Gina Lollogrigida with Giorgio De Chirico, 1961
© Archivio Paolo Di Paolo

With the closure of Il Mondo, he decided to interrupt his work as a photographer: “I stopped photographing for the love of photography”, he said.
His archive, found by chance by daughter Silvia, consisting of over 250,000 photos, would remain perfectly preserved: one of the most artistic and stunning discoveries ever made in the recent years. Publishing 573 photographs for Il Mondo, in which protagonists from the world of art, culture, fashion, and cinema, alongside normal people, told the tale of the Italy that was being reborn from the tragedies of the Second World War. His ability to get into the world of art, cinema, culture and literature make his work truly remarkable.

Pier Paolo Pasolino al Monte Dei Cocci, Roma
© Archivio Paolo Di Paolo

Not one but many pages of history recomposing the vision of everyday life of ordinary people together with those of great artists. Like so many pixels, of different sizes, that build an image where we can see the origin of our culture: a heritage that too often we take for granted and that the exhibition reminds us of as a great family album found again. The discovery of those sensations, of those ties with something unique is the magic that animates the whole show.
The exhibition also comes to us as a gift: the opportunity to share a documentation that preserves the charm of personal memory.

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Photos courtesy of Archivio Paolo di Paolo.

More about the “Mondo Perduto” exhibition here.

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