Along with only a handful of other luminaries of his generation, Gian Paolo Barbieri helped to produce the foundations of modern vogue photography. By pushing vogue photography beyond vogue commerce, the depth of Barbieri’s illustrations or photos forces us to contemplate them as art as a great deal as commerce. I experienced the chance to inquire Barbieri a couple of inquiries about staying a pioneer in his subject and what it takes to generate a legacy.

For above 60 a long time, Barbieri has been one of the most influential international photographers in the globe of style.

Collaborating on some of the biggest advertising campaigns for international fashion manufacturers these types of as Valentino, Gianni Versace, Gianfranco Ferré, Giorgio Armani, Bulgari, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana, and Vivienne Westwood. His work has crammed the pages of Vogue Italia, Vogue Paris, Vogue America, L’Officiel, GQ, and Vanity Honest.

Barbieri has a new show at 29 ARTS IN Progress Gallery and an eponymous documentary biopic from Needed Cinema, about his daily life and get the job done, that will be commonly offered early in 2023. 

Barbieri’s perform is legendary and proceeds to be related right now, many years just after he begun capturing. Barbieri’s operate has these longevity simply because he photographs strategies and engages keen viewers. Barbieri’s shots are not just pretty pics, they are conversation starters. 

Specifics Make The Image 

Barbieri is recognized for his notice to depth on established. Nothing looks to be much too smaller a element for Barbieri in making his images, advertisement campaigns, editorials, or own work. 

His stage is demanding, meticulous, planned in the smallest facts.”

For illustration, Barbieri’s photographs of Laura Alvarez immersed in the Orinoco River following to a caiman in Venezuela for Vogue Italia and Armani, 1976, is one of his most famous. Well known in part due to the fact Barbieri associated the pink of Armani’s assortment with the attributes of Venezuela, generating the coloration a important component in the photograph and aiding the impression pop with relevance nearly 50 many years afterwards. By making use of pink feathers and pink orchids traced back again to the area flora and fauna present in Venezuelan character and applied in Venezuelan cultural costumes, the pictures aren’t just vogue, they’re about the place.

Digging further, Barbieri had Mr. Mori, a neighborhood craftsman, make plexiglass masks to aid amplify Alvarez’s terror at becoming flanked by caiman and piranhas. By paying so a lot time considering each and every and each and every aspect of his visuals, Barbieri transcends fashion pictures, generating surreal dreamlike photos that let for interpretation. His photographs interact his viewers, encouraging them to do a lot more than evaluate the style tendencies of the day, to also ask issues about the photos and their meanings, and to persuade viewers to contain themselves.

Deep Inspiration 

Most absolutely the clothing that Barbieri photographed influenced his visuals. Even so, fantastic vogue images go outside of the clothing by itself, they try out to make connections with even larger ideas and consequently produce even larger images  visuals that encourage more discussion and in the long run thought. Given that Barbieri was a child, the attraction he felt for cinema, theatre, and artwork, in standard, has often motivated the way in which he seen the environment. Barbieri’s curiosity to see and know far more about the planet all over him has been the motor of his life’s operate. A thirst for the new is anything that assists Barbieri, and any photographer for that matter, to continue to expand and shock, even by themselves. 

I have usually beloved art, in all its incarnations. Because I was a baby the inspiration of theatre and cinema played an critical job. Looking at broadly, studying classical artwork, hunting to the great masters of the previous or simply seeking close to me at what animated my environment, I cultivated my artistic eye.

In latest a long time, Barbieri has been functioning on a job encouraged by Shakespeare, prepared around the 4th centenary of Shakespeare’s demise. For Barbieri this undertaking is about finding Shakespeare by his have feelings and vision. Here he selected characters from Shakespeare’s works and interprets them in a fashionable way through his individual lens. Yet again, creating room for dialogue within just the viewer further than a uncomplicated reflection of typical tropes and imagery. 


Possibly 1 of Barbieri’s greatest long-expression influences is the strategy of seduction. Not just purely sexuality’s seduction, however that unquestionably performs a portion of it, but seduction in the sense of temptation and attraction. Barbieri has invested considerably of his lifetime making an attempt to chat about attraction. 

I have constantly tried using to seduce with pictures, for me images indicates specifically that.

Seduction is just about everywhere in Barbieri’s perform. It is in the strains of his flowers, rocks, and surf in Tahiti as effectively as the curves and sexuality of his commercial style work. Trend images from the 70s, as a great deal as style pictures these days takes advantage of sexuality and seduction to provide. I discover it intriguing that Barbieri’s concept of seduction tends much more toward girls that are far more self-mindful. In an period wherever the objectification of women or the gaze of the male voyeur is what generates major budgets, Barbieri’s work does not appear like exploitation, it still feels like a discussion. As soon as once more, an method that affords his perform a feeling of relevancy that a good deal of fashionable fashion images, enable by yourself his contemporaries, doesn’t have.


Barbieri mentions in the film that pictures is distinct relying on who’s holding the camera. If you’re just photographing what’s in front of you, if you’re not inquiring issues, not inspecting your very own thoughts, not producing a dialogue, you are not building a legacy. You need to be generating suggestions, not just photos. 

I required to prevent time to definitely fully grasp the joy that caressed me and as an alternative it slipped by means of my fingers.

For Barbieri, the only regret he seems to have is not acquiring stopped extended adequate to notice and hear to himself. By expending more time with your possess views and partaking in the globe around you, your pictures will be richer, they will be discussions and tips, not just pixels. 

All photographs courtesy of Gian Paolo Barbieri, Courtesy of Fondazione Gian Paolo Barbieri and 29 ARTS IN Progress Gallery.