Photographer Mario Giacomelli is best known for his studies of daily life in Italy, focusing on the village in the Marche region where he was born and where he died in 2000. A self-taught photographer, Giacomelli became a master of black-and-white photography, and often used intense grain and stark contrasts to transform the familiar into something mysterious. He was drawn to photographing the landscape near his home, turning the patterns he observed, such as tracks in the snow or the parallel furrows in plowed farmland, into abstract forms. Photography critic Sandro Genovali, a longtime friend of Giacomelli’s, wrote, “He didn’t want to document reality: he wanted to transform it.”
A new book, Under the Skin of Reality, due to be published in the U.S. this month by Schilt Publishing, presents a new view of Giacomelli’s abstract experiments. The book features images drawn from the Mario Giacomelli Archive Sassoferrato, a collection of the photographer’s 12,000 images, contacts and negatives. Under the Skin of Reality includes previously unpublished images that were left for many years in an old farmhouse that belonged to Giacomelli. The archive’s director, Katiuscia Biondi, a granddaughter of the photographer, edited the images to highlight the craftsmanship that went into the printing of each image, showing that these stark, startling studies are of a piece with the photographer’s iconic social documentary work.
Pieter ten Hoopen (2008 Winner Mario Giacomelli Memorial Prize)