Black Box Projects

Mario Giacomelli


Mario Giacomelli is widely considered one of Italy's foremost photographers, whose work spoke to a post-war modernist visual language and whose œvure went beyond the popular photojournalism style photography of the time. Giacomelli preferred a grainy texture, geometric compositions and high contrast to his work, creating compositions that are both dreamlike and immediate as he explores the possibilities of abstraction within the medium of photography. The strong lines, fields of stark monochrome and abstracted subject matter speaks to work being created on paper and canvas by other artists in Europe and the United States during this time.

While Giacomelli has been called a humanist photographer working in a photojournalistic style, it is possible that Giacomelli was a pure artist using his camera and lens to create painterly compositions that were ultimately modernist in style. For Giacomelli, the camera was not just a tool for recording reality, but it was a means of personal expression, presenting everyday life and ordinary people as thinking and feeling subjects. When turning his lens on the land and inanimate objects, Giacomelli was able convey the visual poetry he witnessed in his surroundings through his abstracted images. The artist produced photographic works that were defined by the raw expressiveness of the images, which echoed both the aesthetics and themes postwar Neorealist film, Existentialist literature and theories of Subjective photography.

Subjective photography was an international movement founded by Otto Steinert in the early 1950's which championed photography that explored the human condition and inner psyche rather than simply reflecting the reality of the outside world. While Giacomelli lived in worked in the same Marche region of Italy his entire life, he was involved in camera clubs that exchanged these progressive ideas and thus applied them to his own practice. Mario Giacomelli spent years revisiting familiar themes of landscape, seascape, and the people of the Marche region, reworking compositions and ideas for decades. Giacomelli's practice is one of meditation on universal themes of time, memory and human existence.

The artist rarely applied titles and specific dates to individual images, instead titling entire bodies of work from his own poetry and assigning a range of dates to the works, in this way Giacomelli created bodies of work that are both deeply personal, immediate to his surroundings and indivisible from each other, but universal in the emotion and energy they convey to the view. Giacomelli adeptly combined a humanist and expressive approach to his images, understanding that embracing the grainy texture, capturing movement and creating his compositions in high contrast, gave the artist the ability to heighten the emotive power of the final images. It is important to note, the images are timeless in their ability to be interpreted just as poignantly by a contemporary eye as they would have been when first viewed during the artist's lifetime.

Black Box Projects will offer vintage prints alongside life-time prints, available exclusively through the gallery. Many of the works included in the virtual exhibition at Black Box Projects will also be on exhibition at the Getty Museum in California in a major survey of over 110 works by the artist from the collection of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser, from 29 June 2021. Abstracted works by Mario Giacomelli will be on exhibition at the Maxxi Museum in Rome as part of the Giacomelli and Burri exhibition, opening October 2021.

Mario Giacomelli: Revisited is presented in collaboration with art advisors Daniela Duppen (@theblondeartdealer), Anna McHugh ( and the Mario Giacomelli Archive.