A Course Inside the Former Pastificio Cerere - An Exhibition on Ghitta Carell
Project location: ITALY, Rome
Project start date: May 2013 - Project end date: December 2013
Project number: 2012-102
Beneficiary: Fondazione Pastificio Cerere Onlus
Many are the stories linked to the former Pastificio Cerere, but one tells about photography and its most relevant characters.
Indeed at the end of the seventies, inside the previous industrial building, Francesca Woodman, surrounded by her fellowship painters of Nuova Scuola Romana, develops her artistic inspiration finding the perfect places for her shots.
It's no wonder that if besides the Fondazione and the historic ateliers placed along the several balconies of the building, there is a school of photography (Istituto Superiore di Fotografia e Comunicazione Integrata - Integrated Communication and Photography Institute), an art gallery Pino Casagrande, which since 1995 addressed part of its schedule to photography and Ottavio Celestino's studio. Furthermore, the restaurant Pastificio San Lorenzo that, since its opening in 2009, regularly houses photographical exhibitions and Spazio Cerere which has been recently refurbished and has often housed many events dedicated to photography.
After more than 30 years the willingness to recover one of the main aspects of the history of this unique building of Rome, allowed the opening and the mutual interaction among the most striking places within the former Pastificio Cerere. From this point of view, the choice to dedicate an exhibition to Ghitta Carell seemed to be the best way to pursue Pastificio Cerere's course focused on photography.
Of Jewish and Hungarian origin, Ghitta Carell (Szatmár, 20 settembre 1899 - Haifa, 12 febbraio 1972) was the most renowned photographer in Italy for over thirty years. Her fame obscured that of all of her contemporaries, whether male or female. In Italian homes, the presence of a portrait signed by her was a status symbol. Whoever could afford one, did.
Born on September 20, 1899 in northeastern Hungary, Carell studied photography in Budapest. Shortly after, she began to attend the studio of the photographer Szekely Aladair, whose books were made in collaboration with figures such as the writer Hugó Veigelsberg, aka Ignotus (1901-1949), the poet Endre Ady (1877-1919) and the great musician Béla Bartok (1881-1945). Starting with the personalities that gathered at Aladair's studio, Carell began to familiarize herself with the intellectual circles of the Hungarian capital. Thus stimulated, she continued her photographic apprenticeship in Vienna and Leipzig, eventually arriving in Florence, in 1924, where she socialized with the Central European circle concentrated in Fiesole at the house of the sculptor Mark Vedres - a disciple of Rodin, later associated with Cubism and Constructivism - and his wife Matild, an art historian. The Vedres home was not, however, the meeting point of only Central European personalities, but also of talents such as the musician Luigi Dalla Piccola (who, towards the end of that decade, would begin experimenting with dodecaphony), the writer Alberto Carocci (founder of the magazine Solaria), the sculptor Marino Marini and the art historian Bernard Berenson.
Following the Florentine period, Carell moved to Milan, where she quickly became a highly sought-after photographer, especially popular in financial and aristocratic circles. This fame promptly spread to the bourgeoisie, which began to consider Carell's photographs as proof of social status. Shortly thereafter, in the throng of the cult of Rome, Carell moved to the Italian capital and, on the sole strength of her art, succeeded in swiftly conquering everyone and becoming one of the leading photographers of the Fascist regime. Her fame was consolidated thanks to the portrait of a balilla used on a widely circulated Fascist banner.
In 1959, Carell became a naturalized Italian.
The exhibition aims at giving an overall interpretation of Ghitta Carell's work, as it reached us through materials survived their destruction, through the press of that period and recovering all the advertising realizations about her.
The participation of the 3M Foundation has been fundamental to the realization of the exhibition. In fact, the pictures exhibited will come from 3M Foundation archive, that holds a patrimony of over seventy thousand photographs (plates, daguerrotypes, postcards, negatives, original prints and reproductions), inherited in part from the historical company Ferrania and supplemented over the years by a series of donations and acquisitions. One of the major collections inside this archive is that of the photographs of Ghitta Carell.
The show on program will be centered around three research aims:
1. To examine the notion of the portrait as a fundamental issue in the history of visual representation and a nodal point in modern art.
2. To consider the presence of Ghitta Carell within the vital panorama of Italian photography, and Italian culture more generally.
3. To situate Carell's production in relation to the socio-anthropological developments taking place in Italy throughout the period during which she worked.
It is only with the development of such an analysis, in fact, that the photographer's renown and the meaning of her oeuvre can be effectively understood.
The show will be spread through four different spaces and composed of a selection of vintage photographs as well as approximately 120 images printed for the occasion. The pieces will be grouped together according to theme: the nobility, the clergy, the industrial class, the bourgeoisie, the intelligentsia, the political class, the family, the common people. This selection will be complemented by a video projection of the photographer's entire output.
Each thematic nucleus will be accompanied by a text-panel that contextualizes the work historically; in many cases, the single photographs will have long captions relating to the person figured.
There will also be a section dedicated to the history of photo retouching, a technique that Carell experimented with and that distinguishes many of her works. This section, together with the vintage prints and the four self-portraits of the photographer, will be located in the gallery space of the Cerere Foundation.
The thematic nucleus relating to the clergy - popes, bishops and cardinals - will be exhibited at the Pino Casagrande gallery, while the rest of the material will be located in the more spacious Spazio Cerere. Finally, the walls of the Pastificio Cerere restaurant will be used to display a selection of photographs relating to the theme of female beauty.
The exhibition will be curated by Marcello Smarrelli.
The critical essays will be written by Diego Mormorio.
The photographic material will be supervised by Ottavio Celestino.
This project received a grant from the Nando Peretti Foundation.
A special and unique place for exhibitions, a place of production and enjoyment of art which will allow visitors to fully enjoy the exhibition and live the experience of interaction among different places linked by art and artists, throughout the whole exhibitory course.
About 80/100 works are expected to be displayed: formats will vary from cm30x40 and cm50x70; a limited selection of cm 100x100 images will be showed as well.