venerdì 9 novembre 2018

Factory at Bruzella: photographic documentation as art

"In some exceptional cases the photographer manages to create an image that exceeds the simple document for its content and its shape." Gisèle Freund

I came back to Bruzella, Switzerland, to visit a very interesting exhibition at the Rolla Foundation and I interviewed Phil Rolla to understand how, after a few decades, photography can became art. Tony Graffio

Tony Graffio interviews Phil Rolla at Factory's vernissage

Tony Graffio: Good morning Phil Rolla, as already for the other 14 exhibitions in the past, have you made this exhibition with the photographs belonging to your collection?

Phil Rolla: Yes, what is exposed it's all part of our collection.

TG: Why have you got this passion for industry?

PR: Because I lived in industry; in addition to designing special pieces for boating, I produced them. Throughout my life I have dealt with this and so I have always been fascinated by the factory. For me it's better to see a good turner or a good miller working than a naked woman... (Laughter) I've always been fascinated by the man's ability to create something with his hands and his wits .

TG: Can we say that technique is art?

PR: Yes, technique is art.

TG: Where do the photographs shown in these rooms come from?

PR: A little everywhere; I have collected them in various ways: buying directly from the authors; while vintage photographs come mainly from auction houses. I have had this series of images taken from the Krupp factories from an exchange with a friend who had found them in Paris.

Anonymous - Untitled (Krupp Fabrik) 1933  (vintage gelatin silver print 11 photographs cm 17,5 X 23,5 each)
Anonymous - Untitled (Krupp Fabrik) 1933
(vintage gelatin silver print 11 photographs cm 17,5 X 23,5 each)

TG: Are these very old aerial photographs?

PR: Yes, they are military photographs taken in 1933, when the French wanted to understand what was happening in Germany.

TG: Of course, they had already understood that the Germans were about to rearm. Do you know the author of these shots?

PR: No, they are anonymous, it's really about shots taken by the French aviation, there's no way of knowing who made them.

TG: Were you aware of the existence of these shots or it has been a surprise to find them?

PR: No, I learned about their existence only two years ago, when I acquired them.

TG: How long have you been collecting industrial photography?

PR: I started after the year 2000; for about 15 years. My first interest in photography was for German industrial photography, from 1928 onwards. The Germans wanted to document everything. Unfortunately, later also in the bad. After the First World War, in the 1920s, Germany was a very poor country. The only resource they had was the ability of people to do something well done.

TG: Well, they also had some important raw materials like coal and steel...

PR: Yes, but those resources were destined for the payment of war debts. What enabled them to recover was precisely their manufacturing capacity and the choice to pursue a quality product, they had nothing else. The Germans have documented their work through photography, while in other countries this did not happen. In France or in Italy the workers were photographed in front of the factories. Group photography took place, rather than industrial photography.

TG: So, can documentation become art?

PR: Of course. What matters is the choice. Art is in choice. I say this as a collector.

TG: Atget has also documented Paris and his documents have become art.

PR: Atget has documented the Paris that he thought was about to disappear.

TG: In fact it went like that, that Paris disappeared, but at the time just a few people understood it. Maybe nobody...

PR: No. During his life nobody understood what Atget was doing.

TG: These aerial photographs were probably shot with large format cameras, I would say 18X24 cm, loaded with plates that were then printed on contact.

PR: Yes.

TG: What is the charm of these landscapes taken from above with zenithal photography?

PR: It is an aesthetic appeal that has to do with geometry and seriality. It's like seeing Sol Lewitt's drawings. It's the same for me.

TG: Is it a complete series or is something missing?

PR: We found eleven pieces. It was not done as a series.

TG: Let's see something else now.

PR: In these images we see the Turbinenhalle, a turbine factory in Berlin that existed long before the Second World War. It is a very beautiful building from the early 1930s, all in glass blocks, here large turbines were built.

TG: Does this factory still exist?

PR: It still exists now and it still works. The images were taken in 2009 by the German photographer Christof Klute. He is a friend of ours who has studied with the Becher. He is very good. These images give me the sense of the factory. All this exhibition, including the catalog, must give the sense of the factory. You can not document everything, but you can leave an impression, a sense of what is the factory, and that's what we wanted to say with this exposure that we have just called: Factory.

TG: Phil Rolla, excuse the curiosity, even the cameras express a concept of technicality and mechanical precision, do you also collects cameras?

PR: No. I've always had several cameras; first a Rolleiflex, then Leica, Hasselblad, Sinar... but I have always bought them for my personal use.

TG; On this wall what do we find?

PR: Here, there are various images of different authors. The first two photographs are by Werner Mantz, a great German photographer who worked both before and after the war. They are images of great strength. A human element also appears to give an idea of ​​the size of the building. This is the first industrial photograph I bought. Frechen, 1928, is another photograph of Werner Mantz that I liked very much for the strength expressed by the chimneys.

TG: Beautiful. The chimneys really have an unusual shape, they almost look like those Moroccan pans where they cook the cous cous...

Werner Mantz - Frechen - 1928 (vintage gelatin silver print cm 21.5 X 16.5)
Werner Mantz - Frechen - 1928 (vintage gelatin silver print cm 21.5 X 16.5)

PR: (Phil Rolla smiling) Yes, they look like the Tajines. However, the German cous cous is called charcoal. This untitled photograph taken in the early 1960s is an image by Bernhard Becher. Later, he will work with his wife Hilla, but each of them independently photographed on his own. From this photograph one can understand that he was a little more romantic than she. Together, they have been documenting the industry for more than 40 years. Hilla was the daughter of photographers, while Berhard was a painter who wanted to document German industry with his drawings, but then realized that with that technique it would take too much time, so he went to photography to document what was disappearing more quickly.

TG: Did he photograph a village of workers?

PR: Yes, the chimney is in the center of the village, while the workers' houses were around the factory.

TG: The next is another aerial view.

PR: Antony Linck photographed from above an industrial village in New Jersey from the 1950s. These are the first industrial installations where there are only factories. Unlike what happened in Europe, where workers lived near the factory, here factories have arisen where before there was nothing. The novelty consisted of separating industrial and residential areas; it is a concept opposite to what we have seen in Becher's photography.

TG: The American vision of life and work is totally different from the European one.

PR: Yes, even if afterwards, outside of any Italian city, the industrial areas will be installed. The factory should not be close to those who consume the goods, but should be placed close to the suppliers of raw materials and where there is the ability to create the product.

TG: This solarization by Ludwig Windstosser is a bit like the emblem of industrial civilization. It is more interpretation than documentation.

PR: Yes, right it's interpretation.

TG: Here we are instead in front of the photograph that has been a manifesto for this exhibition. It is also beautiful because it contains all the elements that give the idea of ​​the factory and work: the smoke, the darkness inside the shed that contrasts with the light of day that comes from the windows and gigantic spaces that crush the man who ends up with losing its individual value to become part of an immense productive mechanism.

PR: It is a photograph of the Ansaldo of Genova, taken by the Swiss photographer Kurt Blum. You perceive that dirty atmosphere crossed by the sunlight that is radiated to the ground. But now I leave you with Enrico Minasso who will explain to you what you will find in the other room, right on the other side of the wall.

TG: Thank you so much Phil.

At this point I listen to Enrico Minasso, a Piedmontese photographer to whom Phil Rolla has bought a series of 15 photographs printed on a fairly small size format. The images called D/RUST resume a mechanical workshop in disuse for years that still kept the tools used for work covered by a veil of dust.
Inspired by a speech on the print dimension, I resume talking with Phil Rolla.

Tony Graffio: Personally, I really appreciate the print on a fairly small paper format, while for some time now more and more prints are being printed on giant sizes. What does Phil Rolla think about it?

Phil Rolla: Once the photograph was made in a small format and to observe it was necessary to take it in hand and keep it roughly 50 centimeters from the eyes. In the '80s the first gigatographs of about 1.5 meters X 3 were made. The forerunners of this style were the Germans Andreas Gursky; Thomas Struth and Thomas Ruff who was the first photographer to make prints on these large formats. From then on, photography has changed and has become painting, because these works must be observed at least 6 meters away. And so, somehow, we return to the Renaissance and the size of the large frescoes.

TG: Do not you think that extra-large photography is more worthy of advertising and art posters?

PR: No, because the billboards have always been very big. Photography is something intimate; large photography becomes a different thing, closer to art. A few years ago in Munich I saw a Gursky exhibition where he had taken the Formula 1 cars back to the pit-stop. I observed those images and I told myself it was like seeing a Titian, because the images conveyed a great expressive force.

TG: Do you prefer to collect small formats? Or do you also own something big?

PR: At home I hung a large photograph of Ruff because it describes well a landscape of the German province, but you should have the space of a museum to be able to exhibit so many large works. We must also respect the stylistic choice of the artist. There are photographs that need to be printed on a large format, while others are more intimate and do not need to be large. Vincenzo Castella's photography in color at the entrance to the exhibition is just the right size. If it were bigger it would lose impact, while if it was smaller you would not see it any more.

TG: But I know that there are some collectors who sometimes commission a special print of an oversized format, compared to the usual formats used by an artist. How do you see this kind of operation?

PR: If the artist does what he is asked on these occasions, I do not know if he can be considered an artist. More than anything else, he is a good seller of his work. Before doing something, the author already has the right size in mind.

TG: Most of the authors on display are German?

PR: They are Germans, because are German the photographers who dedicated themselves mre than others to industrial photography.

TG: At the time they were documentarians, not artists, right?

PR: Yes, they were documentarians who lived on their work. They photographed on commission for the industrialists who owned the factories.

TG: It is an example of photography that has been transformed to acquire a different value from the initial one.

PR: Yes, but it was a photography that was already very well done. Those photographers did not follow directions, but only their aesthetic ideas.

TG: Were they free to create what they wanted?

PR: Exactly. The geometric constructions of their photographs were beautiful, look at this image of Albert Renger-Patzsch is so perfect as to look like an abstract painting...

TG: It's so perfect that it looks fake.

PR: Yes. Follow me to show you another picture ... This photograph by Oliver Boberg is fake... The photographer built a factory model and then photographed it. He always does this: he builds models in the most realistic way possible and then he takes pictures of them.

Oliver Boberg - Parkplatz - 1988 (C print cm 85 X 181)

Oliver Boberg - Parkplatz - 1988 (C print cm 85 X 181)

TG: Interesting. Is it important for a collector to have silver salt prints or made with techniques that are difficult to reproduce, compared to digital printing?

PR: The most important thing is the subject of photography. A print in silver-print is better than an inkjet print, but even the silver-print can have little value if the subject is not interesting.

All the rights are reserved

Factory is the fifteenth exhibition held in the ex-kindergarten of Bruzella, home of the Rolla Foundation. The photographs are from the private collection of Rosella and Philip Rolla. The exhibition is dedicated to man that does things properly.


As the economist Christian Marazzi writes in the introductory text, the selected photographs are “a representation of the finest 20th century material culture, of that cultural materialism in which people learn and improve through the things they produce, in which their comprehension of the process of making allows them to understand how things may generate social, political, and religious values.”

The exhibited authors are: Tom Baril, Bernhard Becher, Kurt Blum, Oliver Boberg, Vincenzo Castella, Giuseppe Chietera, Ruth Hallensleben, Fritz Henle, Christof Klute, Anthony Linck, Werner Mantz, Enrico Minasso, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Fabio Tasca, James Welling, Ludwig Windstosser.

Opening period: from October 27th 2018 to January 27th 2019. Every second Sunday of the month from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm and by appointment. Free entry.

Bruzella: The historic town of Bruzella, in the Valle di Muggio, about 10 km from Chiasso and 26 km from Lugano, is now part of the new Breggia community (Mendrisio). At an elevation of 600 metres on a terraced hillside the kindergarten is situated on the first floor of the former Town Hall, in front of the San Siro parish church.

domenica 31 dicembre 2017

Mutoid Uri Moss in a Tony Graffio's photo

Uri in Mutonia on a homebuilt motor-tricycle, May 1993. Tony Graffio Photography.
Uri in Mutonia on a homebuilt motor-tricycle, May 1993. Tony Graffio Photography.

The Mutoid Waste Company is a very famous group of punk artists founded in the middle of the eightys, in West London. After a stay in Berlin and in Amsterdam, the  Mutoids arrived in Italy at the beginning of the ninetys. I knew them in Santarcangelo di Romagna, near Rimini, in 1993.
Last May I was invited to expose in Milan the picture I took to Uri and in November I showed the same picture in Jesi, in another collective exhibition; in this last occasion I got an interesting meeting with a woman who was visiting the exhibition who told me she lived in Mutonia for a few years and her ex-husband was the man who built the tricycle Uri was driving at the moment I shot the picture.
Here is a translation of what Allegra Corbo (Happy Crow) told me.

TG: Sometimes, strange things happen, and there are coincidences that make us reflect a lot. By hanging my gumprints on the wall of the Cotton Club Gallery in Jesi, I would not have imagined that anyone so close to Uri could have seen them and stay moved...

Allegra Corbo: I lived in the Mutonia Camp, I know Uri very well, he came to us because he was the cousin of Lucy Wisdom, another Mutoid girl. Uri had come from Israel in 1993. I also know the kart-tricycle very well because my ex-husband, named Stephan Duve had built it. He is German and he has lived in Italy for years, but now he lives in England. I'm from Ancona, I'm here in Jesi because tomorrow I'll close my art exhibition in a private gallery near here. I'd love if you decided to come and see me there. For me, your images are like family photos. I've always been an artist, I lived with Mutoids for a while, but then I did other things. The other boy portrayed with Uri around the three wheeler go karts is Johnny (she talks of another picture I showed in the exhibition TG). I was with the Mutoids from 1991 to 1995, then I left with Stefan, but once we got separated, I went back to Santarcangelo later, with my children and then I left again to go somewhere else...

TG: The experience in Mutonia was really so interesting and different from the life that was normally done at that time elsewhere?

Merry Corbo: I do not need to say it, anyway, yes. I was 23 when I arrived there and even if I came from a fairly alternative family that allowed me to visit India and travel the world, I have to say that in Mutonia I had a very interesting experience.

TG: In what way were your parents alternative?

Allegra Corbo: My parents were Hippies and I had already broken the patterns enough by being born and growing up in a family like that, but the Mutoids are different in another era. A Punk and Cyber-Punk world of the late 80s, early 90s when technology was already important and even the feeling of an imminent apocalypse resounded in the air, just because we realized that our society lived above its material possibilities.

TG: What were you doing at the camp?

Allegra Corbo: First of all we lived in a space that had been granted to us by the Municipality of Santarcangelo di Romagna; it was a former gravel pit. We lived in trucks and our homes were all self-built traveling houses. They were very beautiful; I was very happy there, then that's where my children were born. Lola in 1992 and Ezra in 1995. Together with the Mutoids I did shows only in Italy, precisely because my children were small, but they traveled a lot around Europe and also in other coutries. With the Mutoids there was also an Australian man, Robin, who was one of the founders of Burning Man in the Nevada desert. 
Now it's easier to go around everywhere and the borders are as if they no longer existed.

TG: Are you still on good terms with Uri?

Allegra Corbo: Yes. Two years ago I also organized a festival in Mutonia; together with Sue, a girl who still lives there. Vertigo Truth was a street art festival, on that occasion we invited artists to paint the trucks and the containers parked in the Camp. It was very nice...


mercoledì 15 novembre 2017

Ducati Sogno, a real Dream!

Leica? Minox? No, the best microcamera for 35mm film was  not german, but italian and it was made in a Motorbike and Radio factory. Its name? Ducati!
Until today, I din't know very well the Ducati microcameras because I am more interested in other kind of cameras, so you can imagine the surprise I had when I kept the little Sogno in my hands. The Ducati is quite smaller of my Pentax Q, the camera I used to take the three pictures you see in this page, and it's very heavy (245 grams). 
The Ducati Sogno is very original and well done, but in those years the italian people had not so much money to spend so this élite product became an economical flop. Ducati in six years sold less than 10'000 pieces of the two models on catalogue: Sogno and Simplex. The aim was to sell 10'000 pieces every year. At the end of its commercial life the Simplex was offered as gift to the Ducati motorbikes customers.
The main reason of this sale failure could be due, over to the high price, at the necessity to reeling the 35mm film in a smaller cartidge, probably too small, and with a tiny shaft that could create damages at the photographic emulsion.
On the other hand the mechanical costruction was very accurate. The curtain shutter on the focal plane was very peculiaran it was controlled by a spring. Probably the shutter was too small to be made with two curtains like Leica or all the other 35mm cameras. The Ducati Sogno is the only camera with a single curtain shutter.
Somebody thinks the project of the camera resurfaced from a drawer of what had been left of the Borgo Panigale factory after the WWII, because Ducati during the world worked at the war effort with the german allies. This is why Ducati was bombed by the Anglo America during the october 1944.

 One of the last Ducati Sogno produced in 1952.

 Ducati Sogno had interchangeble lens produced by Officine Galileo from Florence and studied by the italian Physical Giulio Toraldo di Francia.

A detail of the spring of the shutter and of the serial number of the Ducati Sogno.

Many collectors all around the world are searchng for a Sogno in good condition; the camera is quite well known, so I just will add a few pictures and the rare reproduction of the final 1952 original italian catalogue.

Ducati Sogno Orpho
Ducati Sogno - The 1952 original catalogue page 1

Ducati Sogno Catalogue
Ducati Sogno - The 1952 original catalogue page 2

Ducati Sogno - The 1952 original catalogue page 3
Ducati Sogno - The 1952 original catalogue page 3

Ducati Sogno - The 1952 original catalogue page 4
Ducati Sogno - The 1952 original catalogue page 4

venerdì 19 maggio 2017

Gioacchino del Balzo: the man beside the Pirelli Calendar during the fashion golden age

Exclusive Interview with Gioacchino del Balzo
Translated from italian

July 1964 Pirelli Calendar

Tony Graffio: Good morning Mr. Del Balzo, I contacted you because I knew you have been the  Pirelli Calendar Executive Producer for a long time. Now that you have anymore obbligation with that Company I would like to know what you really did in those days and how it happpened Pirelli became so popular everywhere with its precious gadget. 

Goodbye Gioacchino: Good morning Mr. Graffio. Yes, that's true, I followed that project for almost 18 years, until 2012. Then, I had enough of it, because the world has changed quite a bit. 

TG: Surely, you will have a lot of interesting things to tell about this prestigious project. I came to you also because I am passionate about printing techniques and I've been able to find the first typographer who printed the Calendar in 1963 and also the last firm charged to work on it now. 

The first photograph of the First Pirelli Calendar showed a Chinese girl in Hong Kong on a bicycle, because in that country Pirelli was selling many tires and bicycle inner tubes.

GdB: Interesting. Most of the printers I used were in England. 

TG: Yes, I know.

GdB: I had two typographies in England and then I had a very good print coordinator. 


Typographer Lythographer
Angelo Vavassori, 75 y.o., retired typographer and lithographer.

TG: I met here in Milan one of the printers of the 1963 Calendar. I hope you will satisfy a few couriosities I have. First of all, I would like to understand why that edition is not mentioned as the first one?

GdB: The 1963 Pirelli Calendar was made as a test and it was not fully endorsed. It was never distributed, it circulated very little and in the catalog it is considered a form of newcomer. The idea, which was born within the English marketing office, was to represent women from various countries along with the product to be sold. Then, the brand autonomy was very strong, even at local level. The Calendar has always been conceived and printed, regardless of the fact that I was concerned with the project, and it has always been the expression of a British reality, in an English environment that was much more favorable to this initiative, for a thousand reasons. In Italy, it has never been easy to create such projects. Believe me!

TG: I can imagine it... 

GdB: I left this environment after so many years, even because it was a bit Italianized during the last years... Anyway, the first calendar makes a bit of a story in itself; it is considered out of print by Mondadori and by the German publisher Taschen. 

TG: Is it a rarity of great value? 

GdB: I think in England there is one copy in the archive, but you can not find it elsewhwere. We have shown it in various publications to explain the story, not for a collecting matter. The most valuable editions, of course, are the first ones, while the value of the editions of recent years is quite insignificant. 

TG: I understand. I'm not a collector, but I'm interested in many things. From a printing point of view, some collectors told me also the first calendars were very well made

GdB: Definitely. 

TG: Why was there a printing break between 1974 and 1981? 

GdB: The Calendar in England and in the Anglo-Saxon countries had come to the top of the success, and then was stopped for practical reasons. In 1971, Pirelli merged with Dunlop and the complexity of the Merge of the two companies did not facilitate marketing projects.  It's also true that in the following years an important oil and economic crisis emerged, inducing Pirelli to make  a pause. The Communication Project was considered perhaps ephemeral for the context of the time. In the pictures of the 1982 Calendar, it was decided to show the tyre, at least as a reminder, more or less evident in the photographs, something that had never been conceived before. Beautiful Models were quickly chosen and we did traveled to exotic places where pictures were shot in total freedom, spontaneously. From this mode of action, there have been moments of great sensuality that have become mythical. Between 1983 and 1992 it was chosen, instead, to show a sign of the product. The idea was not wrong and some great photographers like Norman Parkinson in 1985 and Arthur Elgort in 1990 were able to propose this element in a fairly veiled manner. In 1988, this purpose was a bit too present and recreated a somewhat forced setting, imposing a theme that obliged the photographer to reduce part of his creativity. I think that at that moment the Calendar was losing that Magic Feeling and Exclusivity have marked it in the past. It was at that moment that we decided, in agreement with Pirelli Management, that we had to return to the origins and the origins were freedom and sensuality. 

Woman-pacemaker

TG: According to you what was the most successful edition? 

GdB: There are some beautiful editions with Avedon and Herb Ritts photographers. The first Herb Ritts Calendar for me was perhaps the beginning of an era of enthusiasm and great emotional creativity. Models were very beautiful and spontaneous and the photographer was perfectly able to convey the great female sensuality. He had had fully absorbed the concept of Robert Freeman: "Let's go to a wonderful place and let's take a picture." There were no schemes. We came back from the trip and we picked the 12 or 13 best pictures. That was enough to make an exceptional product. Then, we went to Avedon asking him not to set limits. The novelty I think I have introduced is that a Calendar should not be linked to the number of the months. One month might even have three or four solutions. Or we introduced the quarterly period... Everyone started inventing other solutions, because it was a shame to discard the photos that were successful. Avedon presented up to 24 pictures, we agreed on a version of the natural woman and of the dressed woman. All photographs were a decision, 90% of the photographer. Then the last word, whether to delete one or more shot it was up to us and to the Pirelli management. At that time there was a total freedom for both, the artist and art director and they accepted these choices. Photography is largely subjective, but there are also objective factors. The photographs were taken by great photographers who first produced the Polaroids in large format, to better feel and understand the situation and the ambience and to achieve what they felt was an outstanding picture. With the digitization it's all changed, you shoot millions of photograps and then pull out what you need in an infinite number of shots... At the end, of course it's easy to choose the best! 

TG: I heard each picture is totally post-produced. 

GdB: Digitizing is all different. If somebody snaps 10,000 photos it's easy to obtain twenty beautiful pictures! (Laughter) 

1965 refuses

TG: Is everything processed in Photoshop. True? 

GdB: But of course they are all retouched, the digital medium allows to do it and it's always done. 

TG: I saw a French publication that also reported some pretty scandalous images. Was there an internal censorship that tended to exclude the most audacious shots? 

GdB: The concern not to go too far there has always been, we tried to play on the nuances of certain atmospheres. Let's say that sometimes some choices have generated a bit of a debate, like the shots of Terry Richardson. The French television has talked about this (of pictures not approved ndTG)! 


Pirelli Calendar 2010 - Photographer Terry Richardson. 

TG: What budget did you have? 

GdB: Budgets have been declared. The models did not earn much, while the photographers were paid, in my time, from 100,000 to 500,000 dollars. The models were paid around $ 10,000. 

TG: Overall budget for the whole operation how much was it? 

GdB: It was around two million dollars. It was not huge and the return was big.  Do you know how much it was? 60 times as much. 

TG: Wow! 

GdB: Yeah, because if you count all the advertising pages, the television minutes passages, the radio, and the rest, you would have spent or invest, much higher. The news was talking of "The Cal" for at least a quarter of an hour. In Italy the TV show "Porta a Porta" (Italian popular talk show kept by the RAI ndTG) spoke of it! 

TG: When? 

GdB: In 2003-2004. 

TG: Now the Calendar makes much less news, why? 

GdB: In my opinion, the Calendar has lost the spontaneity of its great origin. The Great Calendar were the ones that left the photographer the freedom to express his creativity. When I do not accept the choice of a photographer I'm forced to work with, I'm automatically faced with a non-creative choice... 

TG: Who normally did choose the photographers? 

GdB: At 99% I chose them, I knew everyone, I had the technical skills. The calendar was made 100% in England until 2010, probably the print was then brought to Italy for having more control over the final product. The world has changed and we began to hear about purchasing office that intervened. When they began to argue, to make auctions to find a typographer, the photographer had automatically lost his creativity. I do not argue that we have to stay within market prices, but there is way and way to make certain choices. Once, there were very competent and professional British printers. In addition, this also provided a logistic plan and particular privacy. This world has changed between 2009 and 2010. 

TG: The Management for legitimate reasons was more careful about cost and less about creativity? 

GdB: I believe that it is now a business trend in all areas. It is not that before costed more than now, but the over reacted attention to the costs inevitably reflects on creativity. 

TG: In the early 1990s, the world's most famous calendar was printed in 40,000 copies a year, later by half, and now? 

GdB: We printed 40,000 copies to spread it all over the world, now the thing is very complex, we say it's also a marketing tool. When I was in charge of producing it in England, I had to make it known to the world; We introduced it to China, Soviet Union in South America and the whole world. We have organized Calendar launches and events in Rio, New York, Paris, London, Berlin, and Naples to try to make it more known. It was an Anglo-English and even Italian reality, and then slowly it spread to the world. Over the last few years, the circulation has been reduced to 15,000 copies. 

TG: I've heard about 12,000. Why? 

GdB: Probable. At the beginning of 2000 there was more spread because each country where Pirelli operated was calling for a number of calendars that were spread, let's say among VIPs. Diffusion number was also the criterion for debiting the Calendar cost. 

TG: At first the calendars were distributed primarily to the sellers? 

GdB: No, they were given to the garage. We have to divide everything in four decades. In the 1960s / 1970s, British VIP and a number of important English garages were given. In the '80s in England and to the Anglo-Saxon countries, the VIP and something came to Italy. In the 1990s, when I was busy, it was spread all over the world, of course, through the local business management. Lately, people talk a lot less of it, why? As you make the calendar visible to everyone, it makes it much less interesting and more accessible. Before, to see a photograph you needed a miracle. We distributed 3 or 4 photographs all over the world. Some could take pictures of the Calendar, if they did, but if they put it on the internet without authorization we pursued them legally, because we wanted this to be a much desired object and not seen much. 

TG: So, you needed to talk a lot of it without to show much... now it is the opposite. 

GdB: Right, now things have changed. I have no relationship with Pirelli, but it is clear that the project has less exclusive features! Today, perhaps, it has become more difficult to talk about it,  we need to communicate and repeat continuously. The news disappears quickly! For this reason, I am convinced that showing little creates curiosity, expectation and aspiration. 

TG: People have little memory, with the internet talking about something for a day, but the next day everyone already thinks of something else. 

GdB: I agree, things have changed a bit. We can talk about it, but we used to play the little mysteries too: we gave a little news before the summer and then, in a second time, when the Calendar was launched. They were small teasers with great results! 

TG: Now there are also lots of videos on the making of. What do you think?

GdB: Yes, on Youtube. 

TG: Why? 

GdB: Lately, parts of the footage have been given to the public. The original full video lasts 20-25 minutes. I think it's wrong to do such a thing. Creating a commercial spread of the Calendar loses the aspiration of having an exclusive product. If I always see a certain thing, I no longer have the desire to have it. This is an elementary rule. 

TG: There is no waiting that is part of the desire. 

GdB: Exactly! I remember that when we brought Sofia Loren to the United States, to California, we announced her arrival and all the American News talked of her since 8 am. We had given a picture for Sofia Loren's back stage and the whole world talked of her. 

TG: It is difficult to balance something to show with something to hide. 

GdB: It's tough, I agree, but me and the one who took care of the central management, a dear friend, we got the right results. The Calendar was a mythical product that over the time lost its extraordinary name because it was shown too much. One time, of a calendar made up of 20 photographs, half of it could not be seen, even on the Internet. What we put on our web site could not be copied, there were several systems to limit this diffusion of images. Anyone who received our photo was a privileged one, we distributed a very small number of photographs so everyone wanted to have them. Then, there were those who smuggled the photo because it was firing from the calendar, something that made us play. It was good for us to have someone who photographed the picture of the picture, because so it was spoken in a clandestine way, not in an official way, do you understand? Who copied the photograph was someone who was not linked to the official site; It was not the "Corriere della Sera" or the Times of London... That meant that somebody was talking of it, there was a bit of chaos and then the thing fell there. Big expectation was created. 

TG: Back to the print, what specifications were required and what techniques were used? 

GdB: It was all above the photographer to approve the quality by going to see the first print tests to see if the colours were right and whether certain qualities were fine. Once, the photographer went on a typography for a whole month before he could fix the print colours; it was a much more complicated job from that point of view. This was normal until 2007-2008, we are not talking about prehistoric times. The digital infographic then simplified the work a lot. 

TG: Why do people who work with Pirelli, I'm talking about typography, can not even publicly to be an important partner in making such a prestigious product? In this company near Bergamo, where they now manage print management on printed paper, on behalf of large international brands, using external suppliers, they would be happy to tell everything to me, but they cannot. At the end, Pirelli does not pay much, and in addition, whoever offers his services must partially give up their image return, although later there is an indication of the names in the final credits. Is this right? 

GdB: Now they cannot speak for contract, but once in the Calendar, the name of the printing company was imprinted, and the company that used the printing found this great advertising that allowed us to get great prices for the Workmanship we asked from them. I believe that the current Management has opted for new rules. 

TG: I know the first typographer to deal with was here in Milan, it was called GBM; While now they print from the parts of Treviso, from Antigua Graphics. In England, who was working on this work? 

GdB: A typography that has now closed, Pure Print, its print coordinator was Mike Welles. 

TG: How do calendars look like the last two years? 

GdB: A bit different from what they used to be; I think they reflect the big changes that have happened to Pirelli quite clearly. There is no longer the fantasy of the old times. Naked or half-naked should be seen as a message that can speak of a fairly precise theme. Annie Leibovitz is a perfect poster photographer for American Vanity Fair; She is a very nonconformist woman; It does wonderful things, but in my opinion she has a vision of life without imagination. I think Peter Lindbergh worked a lot better, a bit like the Patrick Demarchelier of the best years: these are photographers capable of making wonderful images, but also having a cultural message, do you understand? 

TG: Is there any other calendar you think is well done or would it be worth collecting, in anticipation of its future reavaluation? 

GdB: No, I do not think there can ever be anything that comes close to what we did with Pirelli in the '90s and 2000s. The British have always had a lot of fantasy about these calendars, let's call them "garage calendars" They were also funny because they were imaginative. Lavazza did something good and Campari too, but they did not choose the right photographers. It is to be said that the object calendar, a bit like many paper publishing products, has lost its charm. I understand that the cult calendar is over, so in the digitalization world, something was to be invented that would always be a paper message, but able to talk about it. I've seen this transformation with a photographer like Patrick Demarchelier who once said to me: "You know what I'm saying to you, now I'm also making digital photos!" When he was already famous for being very fast in shooting. Clearly, digital era has made everything easier for everybody. To make a good shot, instead of putting one day, we took 10 minutes. One that is already fast with the film, in digital is also faster. So he did a bit of digital shots and a bit with the film; in this way life was simpler and services rather than 7 days lasted 5, the logic of work had changed. 

TG: Dr. del Balzo, did you really want to take Demarchelier and half a dozen of nude models to the North Pole in the midst of white bears? 

GdB: Yes, there was the idea of ​​doing something like this to give a more important meaning and message to the project that could have been such a cry of hope for a very worrying idea. 

TG: Mr. del Balzo, could you get me a 2018 calendar? 

GdB: No problem. If you had asked me 10 years ago it would have been different. At that time I had 50 people who were foolish to have one. There were people who obsessed me for a whole month to have it. Did you know how many people asked me last year? Only one! Now I did not ask for them anymore, but if you want it, I can make an exception. 

TG: Thank you so much Mr. del Balzo, you make me feel like a semi-VIP.

GdB: Once the Calendar was a status symbol and there was someone who kept it on his office desk, maybe even closed, to show everyone that he had it. This was the game. The Richard Avedon calendar for exapmple was a bit bigger, holding it on the table, but they show it... Now it is no longer so.


Naomi Campbell Dereck Forsyth Pirelli Gioacchino del Balzo
Gioacchino del Balzo Executive Producer Pirelli in 1993, Naomi Campbell is featured in Richard Avedon's photographs taken for the Pirelli Calendar 1995 in the months of July, August and September. Gioacchino del Blazo, in this personal photo that has courtesy granted to Ortodox Photograhy, is behind the British model. On the Right, Derek Forsyth.

All the rights are reseverd


For those who desire to know more of the Pirelli Calendar and see the images of the complete collection, I suggest to consult the website of Mr. Giuseppe, alias Giuseppe Balzarotti.