Franco Fontana, Sintesi | Fondazione Arti Visive Modena

SR Contemporary Art is delighted to announce the exhibition 
at the FondazioneModena Arti Visive




Modena pays tribute to Franco Fontana (b. 1933), one of the city’s most important and internationally acclaimed artists.

From23 March to25 August2019, FONDAZIONE MODENA ARTI VISIVEwill host an exhibition, titled ‘Synthesis’, over three sites – Palazzina dei Giardini, MATA – the former tobacco factory and the Sala Grande ofPalazzo Santa Margherita- tracing more than 60 years of the artist’s career and exploring his personal relationships with some of the greatest photographers of the 20th century.

The exhibition is subdivided into two sections.

The first, curated by Diana Baldon, director of FONDAZIONE MODENA ARTI VISIVE, is installed in the Sala Grande ofPalazzo Santa Margherita and in the Palazzina dei Giardini. Including 30 artworks created between 1961 and 2017, the majority of which have never previously been exhibited, selected from the artist’s vast photographic archive, this section presents the synthesis- evoked in the show’s title – of Fontana’s artistic career. This core group of works comprises quintessential examples of the photographer’s signature style: urban and rural landscapes that transport their audience on a fantastical journey, from Modena to Cuba via China, the USA, and Kuwait.

From the outset, Fontana sought to develop an artistic practice that embraced creative photographic imagery: his bold geometric compositions are characterized by abstract perspectives and surfaces that bear witness and give significance to their forms. The images explore a variety of themes, ranging from mass culture to leisure, from travel to speed, as an allegory of the freedom of the individual, in which the human figure is almost always absent or viewed from a distance.

Fontana’s photographs are often associated with modernist abstract painting, in which color is a key element, while the geometric outlines of the depicted forms obscure the representation of reality. By adopting this innovative approach during the 1960s, Fontana injected new energy and vitality into the field of creative color photography.


The second section, curated by Fontana himself and installed at MATA – Ex Manifattura Tabacchi, presents around 120 photographs selected from the collection of 1.600 artworks that the artist donated to Modena City Council and Civic Art Gallery in 1991. These works constitute an important element of the collection’s heritage, which is now managed by Fondazione Modena Arti Visive. This section of the exhibition highlights the close relationships the artist fostered with some of the greatest names in international photography. During the mid-1970s, Fontana began to exchange prints with other artists and, over the years, amassed hundreds of works by many of the most important photographers both in Italy and abroad, including Gianni Berengo Gardin, Mario Giacomelli, Luigi Ghirri, Josef Koudelka, Arnold Newman, and Sebastião Salgado, to name but a few. This section testifies to both the diversity and sincerity of the relationshipsFontana developed with his fellow photographers the world over, in many cases forming life-long friendships and the high regard in which he was held by them is attested to in the affectionate, personal dedications that frequently attended the works.



Franco Fontana: Synthesis has been produced in collaboration with the European Photography of Reggio EmiliaFestival, the theme of which in 2019 is ‘CONNECTIONS: Intimacy, Relationships, New Worlds’.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog.

Artist biography

Franco Fontana was born in 1933 in Modena, where he continues to live and work. Among some of his most important solo shows are Vita Nova(New Life), Palazzo Ducale, Genoa (2014); La luz del paisaje(Landscape Light), IVAM, Valencia (2011); Franco Fontana, Museo de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires (2007); Ombre e colori(Shadows and Colours), Palazzo Reale, Milan (2004); Franco Fontana, Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Turin(2001); Sorpresi nella luce Americana(Surprises in American Light), Galleria Civica, Modena (2000); Varivalokuvia fargfotografier (Colour Photography), Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki (1990).
His works are held in the collections of some of the most important international museums, including Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris; International Museum of Photography, Rochester, NY; Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Ludwig Museum, Cologne; Pushkin Museum, Moscow; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Metropolitan Museum, Tokyo; Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris; Victoria & Albert Museum, London. He has held workshops and conferences at the Guggenheim Museum inNew York, at the Institute of Technology in Tokyo, at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, and at the UniversityofToronto. He has collaborated with the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Japanese Culture Ministry and the French Culture Ministry.

FONDAZIONE MODENA ARTI VISIVE is an institution dedicated to the presentation and promotion of art and contemporary visual culture. Directed by Diana Baldon, it comprises Galleria Civica di Modena, Fondazione Fotografia Modena and Museo della Figurina.




23 March – 25 August 2019

Exhibition Venues

Palazzo Santa Margherita, Sala Grande, Corso Canalgrande 103, Modena

Palazzina dei Giardini, Corso Cavour 2, Modena

MATA – Ex Manifattura Tabacchi, via della Manifattura dei Tabacchi 83, Modena


Press Office

CLP Public Relations| Stefania Rusconi | tel. 02.36755700 | [email protected]|


Irene Guzman | T. +39 349 1250956 | [email protected]

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