Massimo Vitali on blissful bathers and outdoor furniture

Photographer Massimo Vitali on swapping blissful bathers for outdoor furniture

‘Through the lens’ is our monthly series that throws the spotlight on photographers who are Wallpaper* contributors. Here we explore iconic Italian photographer Massimo Vitali’s vision

Massimo Vitali is best known for captivating, large-scale scenes of beaches that capture people in moments of blissful leisure. Vitali’s career began as a photojournalist working across Europe, but an evolving understanding of photography’s limitations in realism led him towards cinematography, before returning to ‘photography as a means for artistic research’.

For Wallpaper’s May 2022 issue, the iconic Italian photographer swapped bathers for outdoor furniture in an epic shoot on the rocky sandstone cliffs of Le Vaschette in Italy.

From left: ‘Nido’ stackable armchair, €922, by Javier Pastor, for Expormim. ‘Satellite’ dining table, €1,450, by Jean-Marie Massaud, for Dedon. ‘Thor’ barstool with teak seat, €341, by Chiaramonte Marin, for Emu. ‘Trampoline’ armchair, £2,025, by Patricia Urquiola, for Cassina. Photographed by Massimo Vitali for the May 2022 issue of Wallpaper* 

Wallpaper*: Describe your style and process

Massimo Vitali: My style is not about nice or pictorially interesting pictures, rather it’s about the concept behind this. When I photograph a landscape, I’m not so interested in the beauty of the place but in what the place brings to the people who inhabit it. So, no spectacular light and nothing exceptional happening. Just very conventional central perspectives and descriptive, shadowless lighting.  

The process is always the same. I research places and I do some scouting to decide on the perfect point of view, which is usually easy to find ahead of time. I take all my equipment and shoot. Normally, I know beforehand what I will get. 

Ponta dos Mosteiros Dark, 2018

W*: How did you bring your way of working to our outdoor furniture shoot? 

MV: Le Vaschette near Livorno is a place where I have photographed before, so I could move with certain ease while having to move heavy furniture. Normally the focus of my work is people, but in this case, I tried to substitute bathers with outdoor furniture.

W*: What is the most interesting thing happening within photography now?

MV: Photography over the years has changed profoundly, becoming part of contemporary conceptual art, and that to me is still the turning point that has affected my way of working.  

From left: ‘Aspic’ table, from €890, by Gordon Guillaumier, for Roda. ‘August’ lounger, €1,350, by Vincent Van Duysen, for Serax. ‘Ringer’ armchair, from €795, by Michael Anastassiades, for Kettal. ‘Love’ chair, £104, by Eugeni Quitllet, for Vondom. ‘Nui’ portable lamp, £498, by Meneghello Paolelli, for Luceplan

W*: What’s on your radar?

MV: It’s a difficult moment to make long term plans and although I am interested in myriad things, it’s a challenge for me right now to go beyond next month and what the world will deliver, which makes me feel a bit less interested and inspired in what’s happening around me. I always find refuge in my garden, with all the fruit trees and flowers coming back to life after the winter.

W*: What’s next for you this year? 

MV: I’ve been very busy with some interesting shows that have been popping up lately, like in Turin at Mazzoleni gallery, or the first time my work is being shown in Australia. I have a show opening in New York with Edwynn Houk Gallery [5 May – 15 July]. It will be the first time I’ve been to New York since before the pandemic, so I am looking forward to seeing how the city is and how my work is received. I will also be showing work at Photo España in Santander in September. 

I’m also excited for the summer, when I take most of my pictures. The pictures will be some beaches and some rivers, but I would like to keep it a bit secret as I haven’t made the final decision yet on where to shoot. I also hope to take pictures of the Italian singer Jovanotti’s beach concerts, which I photographed in 2019. I am interested to see the difference between before and after the pandemic. §

pevita pearce

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