Scianna, Ferdinando 1943-

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SCIANNA, Ferdinando 1943-

PERSONAL: Born July 4, 1943, in Bagheria, Sicily, Italy; married Carmela Bologna, 1966; married Paola Bergna, 1983; children: (first marriage) Francesca, Fernanda; (second marriage) Eleonara. Education: University of Palermo, 1962-65.

ADDRESSES: Home—6 via Giannone, 20154 Milan, Italy. Agent—Magnum Photos, 19 Rue Hegesippe Moreau 75018 Paris, France.

CAREER: Freelance photographer and journalist. L'Europeo (magazine), Milan, Italy, Paris correspondent, 1974-83; journalist for Le Monde Diplomatique, 1976, and La Quinzaine Littèraire. Member of Magnum Photos agency, Paris, and Milan, 1983—; established studio in Milan, 1983—. Exhibitions: Individual exhibitions include Feste in Sicilia, Circolo di Cultura, Bagheria, Sicily, 1962; Feste in Sicilia, Biblioteca Comunale, Milan, Italy, 1963; Glorioso Alberto, at SICOF, Milan, 1973; Gitans, at SICOF, Milan, 1975; Les Siciliens, Institut Culturel Français, Naples, Italy, 1977; I Siciliani, Institut Culturel Italien, Paris, France, 1977; Sicilia e dintorni, Galleria Il Diaframma, Milan, 1979; Galleria Arte al Borgo, Palermo, Sicily, 1980; Landesbildstelle Württemberg, Stuttgart, Germany, 1981; Kami, Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1989; Le Forme del Caos, Château d'Eau, Toulouse, France, 1992; and Villa Medicis, Rome, Italy, 1992. Selected group exhibitions include Third World Exhibition of Photography, Pressehaus Stern, Hamburg, Germany, 1973; La Photographie Italienne Rencontres Internationals de Photographie, Arles, France, 1978; The Italian Eye, Alternative Center for International Arts, New York, 1978; Fotografia Italiana, Biennale, Venice, Italy, 1979; Ten European Photographs, P.S.1, New York, NY, 1980; and Italian Photography, Beijin Museum, China, 1982. Work is in permanent collections, including Bibliothèque Nationale and Fonds National de la Photographie, both Paris and Salford University, Lancashire, England.

AWARDS, HONORS: Prix Nadar, (France, 1966).


(Photographer) Leonardo Sciascia, Feste Religiose inSicilia (title means "Religious Festivals in Sicily"), [Bari, Italy], 1965.

(Photographer) Leonardo Sciascia, Il Glorioso Alberto (title means "The Glorious Albert"), [Milan, Italy], 1971.

La Villa dei mostri (title means "The Villa of the Monsters"), introduction by Leonardo Sciascia, [Turin, Italy], 1977.

(Photographer) Dominique Fernandez and Leonardo Sciascia, Les Siciliens (title means "The Sicilians"), [Paris, France], 1977.

I Grandi fotografi: Ferdinando Scianna, introduction by Leonardo Sciascia, [Milan, Italy], 1983.

Il Grande libro della Sicilia (title means "The Big Book of Sicily"), [Milan, Italy], 1985.

Ferdinando Scianna: L'instante e la forma (title means "The Instant and the Form"), 1987.

(Photographer) Kami (exhibition catalogue), [Milan, Italy], 1988.

(Photographer) Leonardo Sciascia, Ore di Spagna (title means "Spanish Hours"), note by Natale Tedesco, Pungitopo (Marina di Patti, Italy), 1988.

Città del mondo (title means "Cities of the World"), 1988.

(Photographer) Le Forme del caos (title means "Shape of the Chaos," exhibition catalogue), [Udine, Italy], 1989.

Leonardo Sciascia Fotografato da Ferdinando Scianna (title means "Sciascia Photographed by Ferdinando Scianna"), 1989.

Marpessa, [Milan, Italy], 1993.

Altrove: Reportage di moda (title means "Fashion Reportage"), 1995.

Viaggio a Lourdes (title means "Travel to Lourdes"), 1996.

Scianna: Dormire, forse sognare, edited by Roberta Valtorta, Arte (Italy), 1997.

Altre forme del caos, Contrasto (Rome, Italy), 2000.

(Photographer) Dacia Maraini, Sicilia Ricordata, Rizzoli (Milan, Italy), 2001.

Obiettivo ambiguo, Rizzoli (Milan, Italy), 2001.

SIDELIGHTS: Ferdinando Scianna, photographer, photojournalist, and writer, initially made his reputation chronicling the culture of his native Sicily. His first book, Feste Religiose in Sicily, was published when he was only twenty-one years old; it won the Prix Nadar in 1966. In it, Scianna portrays people celebrating their religious ceremonies, caught up in the exotic mixture of Christian and pagan influences. He returned to the subject again in 1977 with Les Sicilians. According to a Contemporary Photographers writer, the book "provided Scianna with the ideal space in which to construct an organic assemblage of photographs which fleshed out striking stories and combined to form part of his long visual romance with the land and people of Sicily. . . . [he] avoided the facile picturesque approaches to local folklore or pretty Mediterranean landscapes . . . [he] strove in his images to represent people in their daily life—never as the sublime or romantic beings that photography had so often tried to make them." In these books depicting a region both held fast by strong traditions and religious beliefs and open to modern ways, Scianna followed the style of 1940s Italian neorealists, dramatically incorporating light and dark shadows.

In 1966, Scianna moved to the Italian mainland city of Milan, and a year later started as a staff photographer for the weekly magazine L'Europeo; moving to Paris, France, to be a Paris correspondent for the publication in 1974; and continuing his career as a journalist for Le Monde Diplomatique in 1976 and then La Quinzaine Littèraire. He met Magnum Photos cofounder Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1977, was a Magnum nominee in 1982, and began pursuing stories around the world, becoming a Magnum member in 1989.

Scianna made his foray into fashion photography in 1987 when Italian designers Dolce and Gabbana, at the time comparatively unknown, asked him to photograph their clothing in Sicilian settings for a catalogue. "The two designers wanted Scianna to apply his skills at recording reality to the capricious, illusory world of fashion," remarked an American Photo writer; "Scianna responded with evocative images of the model Marpessa . . . strolling down sunblanched streets and pouting in local shops. The campaign was a hit." Scianna said of the project to Carol Squires in American Photo, "I made the pictures trying to find my memory of what the women were like when I was a child." Squires concluded, "Scianna was able to use his journalist's eye to recast the streets of Sicily into a setting for beauty and glamour."

The success of this campaign put Scianna in constant demand for fashion photography, leading to work in the French, Italian, and Spanish Vogue, Italian Vanity Fair, Stern, Marie Claire, and many other European magazines. However, he did not intend to give up his other photographic and photojournalist interests. He told Squires in American Photo, "I don't believe in specialists. I think you have good photographers and bad photographers." And Squires reflected, "Scianna is clearly one of the good ones."

Said Henri Cartier-Bresson of Scianna's work in Aperture, "Ferdinando Scianna is one of those photographers who has the visual gift we call in French 'l'oeil de peintre.'"



Contemporary Photographers, 3rd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.


American Photo, March, 1992, Carol Squires, "The Europeans: As the World Looks to Them in the '90s, They Look for New Ways to See Themselves," pp. 46-47, 49; March, 1992, "Italy, Ferdinando Scianno," p. 49; March, 1992, Russell Hart, "Scianna's Body Count," p. 106.

Aperture, spring, 1998, Henri Cartier-Bresson's comments, p. 34.


Magnum Photos Web site, (August 7, 2002).*