Nino Migliori: The Fifties

Galerija Fotografija
Ljubljana, Slovenia
30 January – 31 March 2018

In post-war Italy a new style emerged that stood opposed to the official images of the Fascist era, to the rhetoric of parades and formal portraits. This new, innovative photography was also different from the amateur photography that revealed a contemplative vision of the world associated with certain thematic tendencies – landscapes and still lifes, where effects in photographing and printing were very similar to those employed in pictorialist research.

This new trend was generally referred to as Neorealismo, the same term applied to filmmaking and similar fields of art – for we must also acknowledge that neorealism also extended to painting, to sculpture, to poster art and more. Moreover we must underline that in photography, as well in other artistic fields, there are far more manifestations of neorealism – and in this situation Nino Migliori’s position was absolutely new.

Nino Migliori worked in northern Italy from 1948 to 1959, and in southern Italy in 1956; his approach was entirely new, and without compare among Italian and European photographers alike. Migliori did not wish to produce mere documentation. Instead and above all he wished to create a dialogue with the people he captured by means of building stories with his pictures. So Migliori proposes sequences – for example, the women on the stairs, in black-on-white steps.

Migliori never proposes generalities, because he observes and reads the space in a highly personal manner. His southern architectures must be read as single-shot sequences, as a kind of condensed narration where we can find singular stories: the one of the foreshortened impression of a village, the one of the two women hand-in-hand, and all of the others that we discover gradually, like an excavation of the inside of each picture. And incredibly, Migliori explored all of these because he observed and spoke at length with these people before shooting. The thresholds in the south represent another typical framework for Migliori’s motifs. Using his Rolleiflex he captures accurate, live images where the hierarchies that order the figures on the thresholds are clear but varied, where inside each shot there is always light coming from behind, an element of rupture, a movement that refers to the story. And the light in every photograph is impressive – dazzling light or deep, gloomy shadows; windows cut out in the dark, and figures as apparitions that emerge out of a different dimension of the story.

Migliori discovered a different way in photography, bringing together the experience of film, social tension, and the strength of storytelling by means of photographs of particular invention and human sensitivity.

Arturo Carlo Quintavalle


Nino Migliori has been developing some of the most articulated and interesting research in European image culture since 1948. From the very beginning he worked to produce neorealist sequential-narration photographs as well as new and original experiments in materials. In the late 1960s Migliori’s work began to take on a more conceptual approach, a trend that prevailed in his work in the years to come. Each of his productions is the result of a precise project rooted in the power of vision, a subject characterises all of his work. As an author he is well suited to representing the exceptional adventure of photography that starts as a documentary scheme and later assumes values and content that more closely relate to art, experimentation and interplay. Today we consider Migliori a true architect of vision.