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Title Abstract from Reality


Franco Fontana

Exhibition September 2 - November 12, 2005

A master of photography of international fame, Franco Fontana has been away from the Swiss art scene for about 20 years.

The ArteF Gallery is proud to celebrate Fontana’s rentrée with a selection of well-known works as well as new photographs exhibited for the first time by a great master of colour. In 1990, a Japanese arts council has rightly recognized Fontana as one of the “Photographers who have created a new era".

The exhibition has been conceived in order to explore the career of an artist who has revolutionized the idea of both natural and urban landscapes and repeatedly surprises us with new and inventive artistic creations.

"Asfalti", is a work in progress, never exhibited before. The series "Asfalti" explores the small markings found on the surfaces of streets on we all walk without ever noticing them.

Fontana captures overwhelmingly fascinating forms and colours, a characteristic to be found in all of his works.
Several of his highly acclaimed photographs, which are part of the visual legacy of our time, reveal the secrets of material world in their most simple form with exemplary abstractionism. And yet it is reality.

It is a stunning revelation of the world’s beauty and its mysterious harmony that the great artist Franco Fontana captures for us.


1933 Born in Modena (Italy)
Owner of a prestigious interior decoration showroom, he started photography in 1961. He took part in competitions and group exhibitions organized by amateur photo clubs
1963 Invited to exhibit his work at the 3rd Biennial Exhibition of Colour in Vienna
1967 Travelled to Prague, returning with unique photographs including the famous ‘automobile rossa’, an icon of contemporary photography, which was rejected at a competition organized by an important multinational operating in photography field
1968 First solo exhibition held at the Galleria della Sala di Cultura, Modena.
1970 Published his first book, “Modena una città”.
Solo exhibition at Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara
1972 Exhibition at Die Brücke gallery in Vienna, which marked the beginning of his international reputation
1979 Started to work on the ‘Presenza/Assenza’ series.
Travelled in the United States, discovering urban landscapes as a new subject
1984 "Piscine" series.
1993 Traveled ‘photographically’ along Route 66
2003 Started to work on the ‘Asfalti’ series
2004 Exhibition Palazzo Reale, Milano

He has published more than 40 books, including various Italian, Japanese, French, German, Swiss, American, and Spanish editions. His work has been exhibited all over the world in private galleries and museums and can be found in over 50 museum collections.


George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester (Usa)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York (Usa)
Ludwig Museum, Cologne (Germany)
Museum of Art, Norman, Oklahoma (Usa)
National Gallery, Beijing, (China)
The Australian National Gallery, Melbourne (Australia)
University of Texas, Austin (Usa)
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (Holland)
Metropolitan Museum, Tokyo (Japan)
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem (Israel)
Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris (France)
Museo de Arte de São Paolo, Sao Paolo (Brazil)
Schweizerische Stiftung für die Fotografie, Winterthur (Switzerland)
Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki (Finland)
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco (Usa)
Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow (Russia)
Victoria & Albert Museum, London (England)


1974 Photokina, Köln, Kodak Photobuchpreis
1983 Stuttgart Prix 1983 - Farbfoto Kalender
1984 Modena XXVIII Ragno d’Oro - Unesco Premio per l’Arte
1989 Roma Premio della Cultura - Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri.
1990 Tokyo Photographic Society of Japan - The 150 Years of Photography Photographer Award
1991 Gorizia Premio Friuli Venezia Giulia
1992 Venezia Premio fotografico Città di Venezia
1993 Sorrento Premio Città di Sorrento per la fotografia
1993 Cordoba Award Guitarra 1993
1994 Pisa Premio Pisa per la Fotografia per il 650° anniversario della fondazione dell’Ateneo pisano
1995 Torino Premio FIAF - Consiglio direttivo della FIAF nomina di Maestro Fotografo Italiano per la sua attività a favore della fotografia e della FIAF
1998 Benevento Premio “Una vita per la fotografia”

In 2000, he was awarded the honour of ‘Commendatore’ of the Italian Republic for artistic reward.