Mario Giacomelli

Il non ho mani che mi accarezzino il volto, c.1961

Mario Giacomelli  (1925-2000) was born Senigallia, Italy. As a young man, he worked as a typographer, painting on weekends and writing poetry. Inspired by the wartime movies of filmmakers like Fellini, Giacomelli taught himself photography.  The Italian photographer Giuseppe Cavalli had moved to Senigallia and was eager to form a club that would promote photography as art. In 1953 the Misa club was formed, with officers Cavalli as president and Giacomelli as treasurer. In 1956, Giacomelli joined the La Bussola group of photographers and then the national ANSA agency. He specialised in black-and-white land scenes, devising his own way of shooting, using the little-known Kobell Press camera.  
 

In 1954 Giacomelli began to photograph the home for the elderly where his mother had worked, completing the series in 1983. Empathetic but grittily unsentimental, the pictures show many women seemingly marooned in the sea of old age. In 1985-87, Giacomelli revisited the subject for his series ''Ninna Nanna,” which means lullaby. In this series,  the deeply lined, gaunt faces of the aged are a bleak counterpoint to the bold lines and patterns found in the fields and on the sides of houses.


Other important photographic essays that Giacomelli executed were the 1957-59 series entitled “Scanno,” named for an impoverished town in the Abruzzi region of central Italy. In the 1960s, Giacomelli worked on the project entitled ''No hands caress my face'', better known as the ''Pretini'' series taken in the seminary of Senigallia and later shown at Cologne Photokina in 1963.

 

Starting in the mid-1950s, Giacomelli began to win photographic prizes and exhibit in group shows many of which focused on post-war humanistic photography, such as the exhibition entitled, “What is Man?” that originated in Frankfurt and then travelled internationally.  In 1975, the British photographer Bill Brandt selected Giacomelli for his major exhibition, “The Land: 20th Century Landscape Photographs,” shown at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.  In 1980, Giacomelli published his first and only solo book, Mario Giacomelli, fotografe, edited by Angelo Schwarz.