Arts & Photography

In the Hotel interiors, displays a Franco Fontana photo dated 1970 concealing a story...

Baia delle zagare 1970 - Franco Fontana

With the shadow on the sea I conquered France.

«In 1970 I was selling furniture but I wanted to be a photographer. I happened to visit the Gargano and captured the Zagare’s Bay. It became the symbol of the Transalpine thought»


It was back in 1970 and I, with a group of amateur photographers friends, reached this hotel on the Gargano, in Apulia, whose name was, and I think still is, Baia delle Zagare. It is located on a small spur of rock high above the sea, reachable by an elevator. We resolved to take some pictures. Some were attracted by the people who bathed while some others by the water, I was struck by the shadow of that spur engraved on the beach whiteness": thus Franco Fontana recalls how Baia delle Zagare was born, one of his most famous pictures. "I was not a professional back then, I sold furniture for interiors. But I had the passion, I had also paid with my own money a photography book on Modena, which is now a rarity for art collectors."

Fontana holds dear that special picture: "That picture, made me famous worldwide. – He recalls – It was the French which appreciated the "philosophy" in it. In 1978 - I had then decided to take a chance on myself, I had given up the furniture selling and dived into photography full time - I arranged a show in Paris, presenting also, Baia delle Zagare. The Ministry of Culture called me to tell me that the picture utterly represented the spirit of their country and that they wanted to use in a poster for the promulgation of the "French thought". I was delighted, and I later found out that poster had been distributed to all embassies and in the most remote cultural centers in Asia as well as in Africa. It represents my personal way of sensing photography. I believe, in fact that this should not document reality, but read it. Reality is all around us, but he who takes the picture shall decide what he wants to express. Reality is pretty much like a marble block. You can unfold an ashtray or Michelangelo’s Pietà".

Looking at it today, you could certainly say that that image already marks Fontana personal "style", that "material" use of color, as himself says, as well as that subtle line between realism and abstraction, that would preside over throughout his whole career, from the ’70s landscapes to the ’80s nudes ("Unlike those of Araki or Serrano mine are museum works and not newsstand works" asserts controversially) to the most recent sidewalks. "Nonetheless abstraction in photography is different than in painting, even snapshotting a house you do abstract, as you decide to isolate that image instead of another, abstraction is in the head of him who shoots".

In 1970 photography, or rather art photography, was almost solely in black and white. "The color - he says - was considered by photographers "gastronomy", actually to handle the color is not easy. There is a tendency to believe that black and white is more creative, but it is not. The real challenge is to commute the color, which is already in things or in the landscapes, from object to subject. And then, so to say, I am an optimistic, therefore I see the world in color. But I really like what Italo Zannier says: Fontana uses the color as if black and white never was".

Baia delle Zagare was also close to give him a ticket to America. "I had it with me when I went to New York in 1979. With my portfolio, and a touch of recklessness I went knocking at Leo Castelli’s, the great art dealer. There was a long queue of artists wishing to show their work. They took my portfolio and after half an hour Castelli's wife called me in, he had on a desk my scattered images and told me they were very interested in my work. Although, I had to sign exclusively for them and wait for two years, because they had already booked exhibitions through all that timeline. I was impatient and I said no. Today I very much regret it." America would all the same enter his works, maybe also because, as would Guccini says, there is a link "between Via Emilia and the West". "In the following years I’ve travelled it in far and wide. And in recent years I’ve travelled also back with friends as Valerio Massimo Manfredi to write a book on the Route 66 ". Of his first trips to America endures a popular series that also made material for various exhibitions: "The light of the American Sundays". "I had then started taking pictures of not only landscapes and houses, but also people." Looking at those pictures, with carved color, suspended in time, and people on the sidewalk waiting for the bus, you would call him a forerunner of much of today's street photography.

"I believe - he continues - that you shall never stop, never do the same things. We have a one-way ticket, it is useless to waste it, repeating what you've already done." This spirit much explains how Fontana, unlike other photographers, does not regret the ''film age". "Digital technology- he says – has been a revolution that offers impracticable possibilities until recently. First of all, you do not break your back carrying an amount of cameras and other heavy equipment. You can snapshot anything you want, and choose only what you like, with the number of pixels we have reached now you have no definition problem. Also, it seems to me you can better understand the light. Finally, the concept that you can "touch up" if you are not satisfied, is another step forward." What would your advice be, to a young photographer wishing to follow your footsteps? "I organize many workshops, and my message to young people is that first of all they have to look inside themselves and figure out who they are. Insane Asylums are full of people who believe they are Napoleon, but in photography is useless to try, if you're not, copying Cartier-Bresson. You have to be yourself, if you understand this, and you have something to say, the rest will come by itself." For this same reason he also debunks the camera fetish: "Baia delle Zagare - concludes – was cut with a Pentax, then I switched to Canon and I always used those afterwards. But I cannot stand those who ask you a thousand technical details, thinking they are fundamental: the camera is like a fountain pen for a writer, just a tool. What matters is what you write."

Rocco Moliterni - La Stampa 10/08/2011

Alessandro Quitadamo - Photographer

Alessandro Quitadamo - Fotografo


Artist and photographer from Mattinata passionate about his land, has produced exclusively for the Hotel Baia delle Zagare photos and pictures showing in the hotel's spaces; cliffs, trees, sea and architectural elements. A modern interpretation to enhance a living land, rich in color and of unmatched beauty.

Hotel Baia delle Zagare - Litoranea Mattinata-Vieste S.P.53 - 71030 Mattinata (Fg) - Gargano - GPS: 41.747298, 16.144810
Amapa s.r.l. - Viale dell'Oceano Pacifico 153 - 00144 Roma - P. IVA: 09731071008
Telefoni: Ufficio Prenotazioni +39.0884.708045  Ricevimento +39.0884.550155- Copyright © 2020
Codice per Fatturazione Elettronica V4MGS7T
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