I came across a photograph by the Italian Master Photographer Nino Migliori. Like most other photographers, I have known Migliori only for a single image. In fact, I will admit that I knew the photograph, but not the maker for many years. I am of course thinking of his spectacular Il Tuffatore (The Diver) from 1951, which I always think of in the company of Kertesz’s Underwater Swimmer from 1917. Both of which have achieved almost iconic status.
“The Diver” – shown above – is the result of a great eye, a great composition and a little good fortune, given the speed of film in 1951. But, to my happy surprise, I ran into an auction catalogue, where I saw another Migliori image, which I had not seen before, and which I find wonderful.
Born in 1926, Migliori is closing in on his first century. He has worked in what I would describe as an independent and slightly irreverent manner his whole life. His work reflects a great love of his native Italy, while at the same time making images that are not necessarily geographically specific, but rather show the genius of a great observer. I have previously quoted Eduoard Boubat, who noted that the difference between a great photographer and everyone else, is that “the wandering photographer sees the same show that everyone else sees. He however stops to watch it.”
When you stand in the window and look at the rain come down and your daily walk with your camera is messed up, because of bad light and rain, it takes a certain genius to see this photograph develop in front of you. Add to that the great fortune that someone down there didn’t get the memo about the exclusive use of black umbrellas….. The photography gods were clearly on the side of Nino Migliori.
The photograph plays with scale. It takes a while to figure out what you are looking at, and to me at least, it has an almost botanical feel. A close-up photograph of a pillow of perfectly formed dark flowers with a single bloom that is without pigment? Or, with a smile on my face, I thought it could be the pope amongst his flock, but of course on closer inspection, the tightness of the crowd and their umbrellas throw you back to a time when people carried black umbrellas, wore hats, and suits and actually went to the office. Now people sit at home thinking of a time when crowded streets and subway platforms were the norm, hoping one day to return.
It is time to look at more work by Migliori. I look forward to it!