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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
"To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It's a way of life." ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Photographer Profile ~ Oliviero Toscani

Oliviero Toscani is an Italian photographer.
For those who do not recognise his name, perhaps you will recognise some of the images below. They represent a sample of Toscani’s work as the creative half of a near-two-decade marriage (1982-2000) with clothing brand United Colors of Benetton. Whether stemming from a conscious and cynical marketing savvy or a genuine moralistic desire to open minds, there is no denying the artistic power of these images. Always controversial while the partnership lasted, Benetton never used a single branded product within their mainstream campaigns. These images act as a profound, brutal and often shocking expatiation on issues of AIDs, racism, conflict, anorexia, religion and capital punishment. It was controversy over the 2000 “Death Row” campaign which led to the artist and the brand finally parting ways. It was a marriage which far exceeded the sum of its parts. Benetton has never matched the sales it achieved under Tusconi, and the artist has yet to produce work of the impactful quality that he did under Benetton. 
Looking back to his work a decade later, it is no less relevant....
[visa Urban Times]

Oliviero Toscani

'There are no shocking pictures, only shocking reality' ~ Toscani

Some people look at a picture for thirty seconds, some for years. It doesn’t really matter because a picture is like life. You take out of life as much as you are able to take out of life, just as you take out of a picture as much as you can take out of a picture…

“A man can watch half an hour of television and think that he’s seen a civil war in Africa, the disappearing rain forests in the Amazon and genocide in Bosnia. In truth, he hasn’t seen a thing. In truth, he was seated in his armchair and saw images that were presented, accelerated, slowed down and mediated by someone else. You can’t learn anything passively. (…) What about still images? Can’t they be just as manipulative? No, because they work at a subjective rhythm. You react to a photograph according to your own tempo. A photograph permits a first viewing, and then an individual reflection. It solicits participation, and encourages individuality in interpretation. Television is an autarchy, a dictatorship”. From an interview with Oliviero Toscani in Newsweek, June 13, 1994 

"Maybe on the cover he’ll find a poignant photograph of AIDS in Africa. Then he’ll open up the magazine and see a photograph advertising a shiny Mercedes… And then he’ll see a big spread on the lost children of Brazil, which is followed by a double-page photograph for Chanel perfume… Our archaeologist will wonder what the hell was going on back then!… All I’ve done is put a news photo in the ad pages.” ~ Toscani

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