Franco Fontana

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Franco Fontana (born 9 December 1933) is an Italian photographer. He is best known for his abstract colour landscapes. Fontana's photos have been used as album cover art for records produced by the ECM Records jazz label. He is known as the inventor of the photographic line referred to as concept of line.

His style[edit]

Fontana is above all interested in the interplay of colours and he has based his own vibrant and original language on that.[1] Critics had labeled it as Photographic Trans-avantgarde.[citation needed] He has explored different subjects: urban landscape, portraiture, fashion, still-life and the nude. He has worked with 35 mm cameras, mostly on location claiming that his studio was the world.[citation needed]

Brief history[edit]

Fontana was born in Modena. He began working as an amateur photographer in 1961. His first personal exhibitions took place in 1963 in Vienna, in 1965 in Turin and in 1968 in Modena.[citation needed] Since then he has participated in more than 400 exhibitions—collective and personal.[citation needed]

He has signed advertising campaigns for brands such as Fiat, Volkswagen, Ferrovie dello Stato (National Italian Railways), Snam, Sony, Volvo, Versace, Canon, Kodak, Robe di Kappa, Swissair. He works with magazines such as Time, Life, Vogue (USA and France), Venerdì di Repubblica, Panorama, and with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and The New York Times newspapers.[citation needed]

His works have been published in more than 70 books in various editions and languages.[citation needed] His first book Skyline was published in 1978 in France by Contrejour and in Italy by Punto e Virgola with a text of Helmut Gernsheim.

His works are displayed in many public collections all over the world; to name a few: MoMA, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, San Francisco; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Metropolitan Museum, Tokyo; National Gallery, Beijing; Australian National Gallery, Melbourne; GAM, Turin.[citation needed]

Currently Fontana is the art director of the Toscana Fotofestival.[citation needed]

He has received numerous awards, such as the 1989 Tokyo Photographer Society of Japan - The 150 Years of Photography - Photographer Award.[citation needed]

Photography, writing with light is certainly still magic, one click leads through mysterious chemistry to develop and realize an image. But Fontana doesn't restrict himself to just the image, he transforms it to something else, probably curious about other people's life, about moments that are never his, panorama's presumable real but felt differently, dreams that were dreamt by other people somewhere one has not been. Like Elias Canetti wrote what could be the motive of every artist: "Nobody resists without a borrowed life, our own is not enough". There are landscapes in the mind that surpass those that casually could happen in front of our eyes and they are superior. They are made of so many of those things that we do not even know where and when and how: a book we read, or a song, the memory of a person or the wish to forget, an instant moment or a long run of years, Fontana, with his brilliant simplicity (apparent simplicity, as matters from the mind and from the heart appear in a complicate way) registers this and meanwhile gives space by suggesting to enable us to fill in with our own memories.from our times, with all our own fantasmagoria as everyone of us makes.

(Francesco Guccini)


  1. ^ Staff, Guardian (30 September 2005). "Periodicals: Oct 1". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-03-05 – via

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