Gian Paolo Barbieri and a few other geniuses of his period helped lay the groundwork for modern fashion photography. Barbieri’s photos encourage us to examine them as art and commerce by pushing fashion photography beyond fashion capitalism. I got to ask Barbieri questions about pioneering his industry and creating a legacy.
Barbieri has been one of the most significant worldwide fashion photographers for over 60 years.
He is working on major advertising campaigns for worldwide fashion labels such as Valentino, Gianni Versace, Gianfranco Ferré, Giorgio Armani, Bulgari, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana, and Vivienne Westwood. His work has appeared in Vogue Italia, Vogue Paris, Vogue America, L’Officiel, GQ, and Vanity Fair, among other publications.
Barbieri has a new show at 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS Gallery and an eponymous documentary biopic about his life and work from Wanted Cinema, which will be publicly accessible in early 2023.
Barbieri’s work is renowned and remains current decades after he began photographing. Barbieri’s art endures because he shoots concepts and engages willing viewers. Barbieri’s photographs are more than just attractive; they are discussion starters.
Details create the Image.
On stage, Barbieri is noted for his meticulous attention to detail. Nothing appears to escape Barbieri’s attention to party while making photographs, marketing campaigns, editorials, or personal work.
His stage is strict, meticulous, planned in the smallest details.”
For example, one of Barbieri’s most famous photographs is of Laura Alvarez immersed in the Orinoco River next to a caiman in Venezuela for Vogue Italia and Armani in 1976. Famous in part because Barbieri equated Armani’s pink line with Venezuelan traits, making the hue a significant aspect in the shot and lending the image resonance over 50 years later.
The graphics are about the place by employing pink feathers and pink orchids traced back to the native flora and fauna in the Venezuelan environment and utilized in traditional Venezuelan clothing.
Barbieri dug deeper, commissioning Mr. Mori, a local craftsman, to create plexiglass masks to accentuate Alvarez’s dread at being surrounded by caiman and piranhas. Barbieri surpasses fashion photography by spending so much time studying every facet of his photos, generating strange dreamy images that are open for interpretation.
His photos engage his viewers, asking them to do more than critique current fashion trends; he encourages viewers to ask questions about the images and their meanings, and he encourages them to participate.
Barbieri’s photos were very probably influenced by the apparel he captured. On the other hand, great fashion shots attempt to connect with more significant concepts and produce larger images that stimulate more dialogue and, eventually, reflection.
Barbieri’s fascination with cinema, theatre, and art, in general, has shaped how he views the world since he was a youngster. Barbieri’s desire to observe and learn more about the world around him has been the driving force behind his life’s work. A hunger for the new allows Barbieri, and any photographer for that matter, to continue to improve and surprise even themselves.
I have always loved art, in all its incarnations. Since I was a child the inspiration of theatre and cinema played an important role. Reading widely, studying classical art, looking to the great masters of the past or simply looking around me at what animated my surroundings, I cultivated my artistic eye.
Barbieri has been working on a Shakespeare-inspired project recently, which will culminate on the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. This endeavour is about finding Shakespeare via Barbieri’s thoughts and perspective.
He took characters from Shakespeare’s works and interpreted them through his perspective in this piece. Again, beyond an essential reflection of popular tropes and imagery, there is room for dialogue inside the spectator.
The concept of seduction is one of Barbieri’s most lasting inspirations. Not merely sexual seduction, though it is undoubtedly a factor, seduction in the sense of temptation and attractiveness. Barbieri has spent most of his life attempting to communicate about attraction.
I have always tried to seduce with photography, for me photography means exactly that.
Barbieri’s work is rife with seduction. It’s in the curves and eroticism of his commercial fashion work and the lines of his flowers, rocks, and waves in Tahiti.
Fashion photography from the 1970s, like fashion photography now, sells via sexiness and seduction. It’s fascinating that Barbieri’s definition of seduction favours self-aware women.
In an era where the objectification of women or the gaze of the male voyeur produces large expenditures, Barbieri’s work does not appear to be exploitation; instead, it seems to be a discourse. Once again, this a method that lends his work a feeling of relevance that many contemporary fashion photographers, much alone his contemporaries, lack.
Barbieri says in the film that photography changes depending on who is holding the camera. You are not leaving a legacy if you only shoot what is in front of you without asking questions, evaluating your thoughts, or starting a dialogue. You must generate ideas as well as images.
I wanted to stop time to really understand the happiness that caressed me and instead it slipped through my fingers.
The only thing that Barbieri appears to be sorry about is that he did not give himself the time to watch and listen to himself more often. Spending more time with your thoughts and interacting with the environment around you will allow you to create images that are deeper and more meaningful; they will be discussions and ideas rather than mere pixels.