Subscribe to Style Magazine

A Total View of Alfa Castaldi


Tomorrow in Milan, 10 Corso Como’s Galleria Carla Sozzani will open Alfa Castaldi, a retrospective of the iconic Italian photographer’s work. “It was never about the beauty of the girls. It was more about an intellectual perspective,” says Paolo Castaldi, Alfa Castaldi’s son and the curator of the exhibition, of his father’s images. “Of course, it’s photography, so you need to look at the pictures to understand what I mean,” he adds.

Known for his studied (but, as his son notes, “not academic”) approach to photography, Castaldi began his career in the early fifties, documenting the scene at Milan’s artist hangout, Bar Jamaica. Thanks to the encouragement of the late, great Anna Piaggi, whom he met in 1958 and married four years later, Castaldi soon expanded beyond behind-the-scenes cultural reportage and dove into the world of fashion photography. In 1968, he became the first photographer to travel to Eastern Europe for a fashion shoot, snapping looks from designers like Walter Albini, Jean Baptiste Caumont, and Krizia in Prague. And he and Piaggi were collaborators in life and work (often for Vogue Italia) until his death in 1995.

Paolo, who notes that there has been a renewed interest in his father’s work since Piaggi’s death last year, says that the exhibition is a “dense” one, including everything from intense, surreal, erotic fashion shots from the seventies, to portraits of personalities like Karl Lagerfeld, the Fendi sisters, and (of course) Piaggi, to never-before-seen personal works. “That’s what I think makes [the show] interesting—the personal photographs,” says Paolo. “It’s very interesting to have this total view of his experience.” Naturally, Paolo knows a little something about the “total view” of Castaldi’s work. Aside from being, you know, his son, and managing the Castaldi archive, Paolo would frequently assist his father on set. “Every day was a sea of ideas. He would always come into the studio in the morning and try something new. He was an improviser. And that’s always stuck in my mind.”

Alfa Castaldi will be on view until March 30 at Galleria Carla Sozzani, located at Corso Como 10, 20154 Milan, Italy, +39 02 653531.

Dept. of Culture