Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Pirelli - The Calendar, fifty years and more

Dal Calendario PIRELLI, 2013 di Steve McCurry

The Pirelli Calendar is famous for photographs of sexy and beautiful women photographed by famous photographers ... I guess that by using the word photograph three times in one short sentence I've surely made my point: photographs are photographs and nothing but photographs. On the one hand, that is. For photographs are surely also more than just photographs. I'm talking about the Pirelli photographs here. They are fantasies, they are inventions. They are meant to entertain, and to distract, and to make our minds wander.

 Marco Tronchetti Provera, Pirelli's Chairman and CEO, states that the Calendar "conveys a vision of a global aesthetic". And while I'm not so sure about that – is there really such a thing? And, if so, could it be defined by such diverse photographs? – I do find the photographs in this tome a pleasure to look at.
Dal Calendario PIRELLI, 2013 di Steve McCurry

Among the photographers are Richard Avedon, Peter Beard, Karl Lagerfeld, Peter Lindberg, Helmut Newton, Herb Ritts, and Bruce Weber. And, to my great surprise, there is also Steve McCurry, the photojournalist whom I would have not associated with the world of glamour.

 Colours are McCurry's trademark  just look at the pics on this page  but it is of course also his eye for captivating scenes that makes him such an intriguing photographer.

I was totally surprised by his statement: "I thought it would be better, for me, to take some of these fabulous women, who really have worthwhile and interesting charities, and to focus on them and their work. In the tradition of the Pirelli Calendar there are elements of fashion, elegance and sensuality that are credited to the models. They're so gorgeous. Just look into my lens and that's all we need."

Had I read that correctly? Were the models in his photos really running charities? I googled Isabeli Fontana  who you see pictured below – but couldn't find anything charity-related. When, however, I googled Kyleigh Kühn (the first pic on this site) I discovered that she was indeed involved in a charity that "seeks to support the artisans and craftsman of rural Afghanistan by engaging local resources and skills to revitalize their own communities."
Dal Calendario PIRELLI, 2013 di Steve McCurry

Most Pirelli photographers are men, there are however also a few women photographers, among them Annie Leibovitz. And, there are the art directors: "Before a model strikes a pose on a beach or raises a javelin aloft in a stadium, and before a photographer asks for one more shot, someone has to come up with an idea." Creative director L'Wren Scott, in charge of the Herb Ritts shooting in 1999: "I wanted to show a beautiful range of women because this calendar is about women and how they've evolved through the century." Mostly unsmiling, and posing with hardly anything on, or so it seems.

Quite some of the pics shot for the Pirelli Calendar became famous and do hold almost iconic status. Herb Ritts' Bahamas shots from 1994, for instance. This had probably not only to do with the photographer's skills but also with the fact that models such as Cindy Crawford, Helena Christensen, and Kate Moss could be seen without clothes on.

The Calendar, fifty years and more
English, Italiano, Deutsch, Français, Español
Taschen, Cologne 2015

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