NeoRealismo: The New Image in Italy 1932–1960

Prestel. 2018. 352p. illus. ISBN 9783791357690. $65. PHOTOG
Independent curator and writer Viganò (photographic events organizer at Admira) assembled this substantial catalog accompanying an exhibition at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery. Neorealism is a term more closely associated with postwar Italian cinema than with still photography, so it’s fitting that film director Martin Scorsese wrote the foreword. Viganò and other contributors argue persuasively in scholarly essays for a neorealist style of photography with distinct themes, aesthetic, and contributions to postwar Italy. Extraordinary black-and-white photographs of people, landscapes, and cityscapes are grouped by broad subject (“Poverty and Reconstruction,” “Ethnographic Investigation,” “Photojournalism and the Illustrated Press”). The assembled photos and accompanying text help readers understand the role neorealist images played in Italy’s recovery from wartime devastation to proud and prosperous democracy by 1960. Includes brief biographies of neorealist photographers and a comparative chronology of events in Italy, in photography, and in neorealism.
VERDICT Will appeal to students of Italian film and photography history, and to those who enjoy browsing black-and-white photographs that are both dramatic history and quite beautiful.
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