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Franco and his wife welcomed me very kindly when I first met him in his home-studio on the outskirts of Modena.
At their living room’s walls there are many of his photos as well as those of his friends-artists that show moment of the life of the person that today is described as the greatest italian photographer of color.
When we discussed of doing some t-shirts together, he wanted to choose among the most precious things he did, most of all the famous “Prague 1967” which is probably the most beautiful photo he’s done.
For the back part of the t-shirt he chose the aphorism “l’arte rende visibile l’invisible” (“art makes visible the invisible”), sentence which has been used for two years by the most important exhibition of contemporary art, Art Basel, making the collection we created together something really unique and exclusive and representative of his work during these years.
Franco Fontana was born in Modena in 1933, where he still lives and works, and he is one of the protagonists of Italian post-war photography, he has “reinvented” the color as a means of expression and not just documentary, using a novel analysis, sometimes provocative, of the natural landscape and the structured, in the search for new signs, structures and chromatic surfaces corresponding to his creative imagination. His landscapes are located on the border between representation and abstraction, through a great sense of color and an equally remarkable considerable compositional skill. The natural forms become fields of amazing color and the view is transformed into vision. He suggests metaphysical atmospheric spaces, a cosmos otherwise unknown and unlikely. His works are now preserved in the greatest museums in the world, including the MoMA in New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Tokyo, the George Eastman House in Rochester, the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, the Australian National Gallery in Melbourne, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the GAM in Turin, the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, the Museum of Victoria Allbert London. He has exhibited in solo and group all over the world, including his most important exhibitions at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in 1993, the Scavi Scala of Verona in 2000, the GAM in Turin in 2001, at the Palazzo Reale in Milan 2004, the “Europeeenne Maison de la Photographie” in Paris, the Museo de Arte in Buenos Aires in 2006. He has held workshops all over the world: from the Politecnico di Torino to Rencontres of Arles, Luiss University in Rome, the Academy of Arts in Brussels, at the Guggenheim Museum in New York for the school program, and then Taipei, Barcelona, Genoa , Rockport, Tokyo, Venice. He signed many advertising campaigns including: Fiat, Volkswagen, Ferrovie dello Stato, Sony, Volvo, Canon, Kodak, Snam, Robe di Kappa. He has worked with Time, Life, Vogue U.S., Vogue France, Friday of the Republic, Seven for Corriere della Sera, Panorama, Class, Frankfurter Allgemeine. He has published more than 60 books, including, in 2003, a retrospective monograph with the introduction of photography historian A.D.Coleman. He received in 1994 the XXVIII Ragno d’Oro UNESCO Prize for Art and in 2006 Laura Honoris Causa in Eco Design Works by the Politecnico di Torino.