Claudio Abate

Claudio Abate, born in 1943, was born in Rome, the son of an artist with a father who was a painter in a house-studio in Via Margutta. This path will also be the starting point of his career and his life; here, in fact, using his first camera, he will open a photography workshop at the age of 15 in his father's room. The first black and white shots of Mario Schifano date from 1959 which testify, although still very young, to his great skill and early artistic development. Still a minor he began collaborating with the Press Service Agency and from '61 to '63 he became assistant to one of the founders of the Magnum photo agency alongside him with Eric Lessing; here Abate embarked on a working relationship as a foreign correspondent, occasionally sending art shots, commissioned directly from America, and then published in "Life Magazine". The fame already acquired at the time, both as an art photographer and as a photojournalist, allowed him to publish in other famous magazines such as "Sipario", "Domus", "Carte Segrete", "Metro", "Il Giornale dell ' Arte ”, also obtaining covers on “L'Espresso” and “Radio TV Corriere”. The studio in Via Margutta will be transferred in 1961 to Via del Babuino. On "Playman" the photographer has published some beautiful services such as the one from 1974, entitled Violence in the basement, one of the few traceable and documented. The elegance of the photographs taken on the models, never vulgar, led him to be a favorite of the director. Alongside these works at the same time Claudio followed the art scene and, from around 1959, he will also begin taking pictures of the theater for Carmelo Bene, known at the "Notegen", historic bar in Via del Babuino assiduously frequented by painters, literary figures, cinema and theater; He thus became the only witness of his avant-garde theater, so much so that he will remain a stage photographer for 11 years, currently preserving one of the largest archives of the Roman Theatrical Cellars with about 6000 photos. From 1963 are the famous shots taken during the representation of Christo '63 at the "Teatro Laboratorio", decisive testimony for the acquittal of the director who was sentenced in absentia, due to the show where the John the Apostle urinated over the head of the Argentine ambassador . An important exhibition was dedicated to the C.A. and C.B. at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in 2013. During his career Abate will also make theater shots for Gianni Dessì, Giancarlo Nanni and Valentino Orfeo. Having now become a fundamental figure in the art documentation, in '68 Claudio shoots on the occasion of the Ittiodromo exhibition by Aldo Mondino, held in the "Arco Alibert Art Studio" of Mara Coccia, in Rome. In the same period he also performed important industrial works for the Tripoli airport in Libya, on behalf of the Libyan government that financed the project. From the mid-1960s he was called by Gian Tommaso Liverani's "Galleria La Salita" and, from that year until 1977, he will also be one of the eyewitnesses of "L’Attico" by Bruno, father, and Fabio Sargentini. Kounellis 'now memorable photos of horses date back to 1969 and those of De Dominicis' Zodiac from 1970; by now the artists themselves will call him to document their works, the happennings and the installations. It will be the National Gallery of Modern Art in 1969 to commission him, together with the painter Paolo Matteucci, a documentary on the work of Pino Pascali, following the artist's death. In those same years Claudio met and documented the work of Joseph Beuys and, in 1986, some of the shots will converge in the famous documentary project now preserved at the Landesmuseum in Darmstadt; the work, on the death of the artist, was published in the volume entitled Joseph Beuys. Block Beuys, and exhibited a few years later at the "Studio Bocchi" in Rome and in 2006 at the "Galleria dell’Oca" in Rome. Moving between public and private space, Abate becomes familiar with the works of Cy Twombly in the Gallery of Gian Enzo Sperone and Konrad Fischer, while in that of Ugo Ferranti he will meet Gallo, Ceccobelli and Dessì, the beginning of a long working partnership and friendship together. to the one undertaken with Nunzio, Pizzi Cannella and Tirelli in the self-managed space “La Stanza”. Realizing that by now the art scene was moving away from the center of Rome, from the late seventies Abate will move his studio for the last time in Via dei Sabelli, closer to the contemporary art scene, around the premises of the "former Pastificio Cerere ”in Via degli Ausoni, a space where the artists called The New Roman School lived, worked and exhibited their works.

Since the 1980s, C. A. has established a close relationship with the Berliners Neue Wilden, in particular with Markus Lupertz and A. R. Penk, of whom he will later become the photographer of choice. The first personal research documented and made public dates back to 1972 where Claudio presents Contacts with the Sensitive Surface at the International Art Meetings, prints made in life-size, in black and white, through direct contact with the subject on photographic paper sensitized by light. , a tribute to the friends who collaborated with him; these will be followed by The disease of the eye (1979), where the author introduces in the image the typical torsion of pictorial anamorphosis and Project for a monument to the cinema (1983), a work created with the contact printing technique starting from frames from a feature film by director Michelangelo Antonioni. Since the 1990s, Claudio Abate has developed interesting research by bringing artist-friends to work with him in the darkroom, highlighting their peculiarities, as in Obscura (2005); more recent The Bathroom (2008) and Pesci e Formiche (2009); alongside these the photographer left us some of the most intense and evocative portraits of the artists, both when they were born from a commission, and when they were taken in total freedom and without the subjects' knowledge. In 2009 he set up an entire exhibition where 64 artists exhibited their work with a single point in common: the oval, commissioned and designed by the photographer.

The first solo exhibition dates back to 1979 at the "Centro Culturale dell'Immagine Il Fotogramma", and in 1993 Abate also boasts his first exhibition at the Venice Biennale, not as an official photographer but as the author of his own series of photographic experiments.

Attested since the mid-1990s, the working relationship between Claudio Abate and the French Academy at Villa Medici has led to the creation of some of the most expressive images in his repertoire; one of his latest photographic works took place in the summer of 2017 at the Yoko Ono and Claire Tabouret exhibition. Noteworthy are the numerous collaborations with the "Volume Foundation" and the "Galleria dell’Oca", however it is impossible to enumerate all the private and public galleries in which Claudio shot on art. The Abate Archive has been created since 2010: sorted by author and space, it leaves an immense photographic catalog of artistic, Roman and international history for posterity.

© Claudio Abate Archive

Claudio Abate