Women’s poetry, by photographer Giovanni GASTEL.
Women’s poetry, by photographer Giovanni GASTEL.

Women’s poetry, by photographer Giovanni GASTEL.

Giovanni Gastel was born in Milan in 1955 to Giuseppe Gastel and Ida Visconti di Modrone, sister of the famous film-maker Luchino Visconti, who introduced the young Gastel to the arts. It was in the 1970s that he discovered photography.


In 1981, he met Carla Ghiglieri, his future agent. She introduced him to the world of fashion, and he began working for famous magazines such as Annabella, Vogue Italia, Mondo Uomo and Donna.
He had a solo exhibition at the Triennale Di Milano in 1997.

A major photographer in the world of fashion, Giovanni Gastel is known for his regular contributions to numerous magazines and for the exhibitions he organises in Italy.

His unique style, characterised by controlled irony and a keen sense of mise-en-scène, creates playful, poetic worlds.
Women would always be his central subject.
He died in 2021 as a result of Covid, leaving behind an immense body of work.


Giovanni Gastel has an acute sense of mise-en-scène, a taste for framed compositions, creating a playful, made-to-measure universe. He ventures into all kinds of genres, from sober portraiture inspired by Renaissance paintings and Baroque scenes, drawing ideas from the world of the circus, to his black-and-white shots taken in the monumental Foro-Italico swimming pool built in Rome by Mussolini. His images exude the elegance and luxury of the fashion world; it’s his aesthetic trademark.


“I’ve always made links between poetry and photography, and I’ve found in photography certain elements that are characteristic of my love of poetry, concision and the need to concentrate all the interpretations in a brief image full of meaning. In a way, I’m trying to create poetry through my photographs.” Giovanni Gastel

These photos are part of a series taken inside the Foro Italico swimming pool in Rome, published in 2008 by Vanity Fair.


Gastel works with large formats and old Polaroid bellows, mixing is his method, the old mix, the camera is old and the technique is part of the digital age, he uses pictorial repeats, doubling, layering, colouring, montage, collage, digital retouching and lighting which are for him the means to create singular visions in which a body, an object becomes an enigma.


Giovanni Gastel’s photographic exploration is marked by the urgent need to bring out the marvellous everyday, which manifests itself through the reading of reality. His work is situated at different levels, both within and outside advertising and fashion.


Giovanni plays with boundaries, blurring contours and scrambling the codes of perception. He makes it impossible to identify the product, and his unreal, dreamlike atmospheres distance the bodies in a presence-absence that makes them impossible to define, familiar and at the same time foreign, but always beautiful and disturbingly elegant.


His images are halfway between artistic research and advertising communication, and Gastel crosses and renews both in a refined and poetic way.

“I try to create poetry through my photographs”. Giovanni Gastel


“There is no present without a past”. Giovanni Gastel


To photograph a heel, Giovanni Gastel superimposes four identical ones, inventing a new form, a characteristic style of the Milanese photographer who, in a still life, respects tradition while constantly seeking new solutions. In this image, the drawing recreates the layout of the objects, which is both articulate and elegant. Their silhouettes give life to an interplay of sinuous lines that continue like a Joan Miro painting and seem devoured by a large, surreal-looking mouth, a reference to the famous sofa with Mae West’s lips, drawn in the 1930s by Salvador Dali. It produces an image that is both ironic and combined with extraordinary technical perfection.


For this photo, he used a large-format camera, a Deardorff with 20 x 25 cm plates, which enabled him to obtain a perfect rendering of details and chromatisms. Red is described in the slightest nuance, with extreme purity, and is an indispensable element of the whole. Colour is an integral part of the seductive power and one of the strong points of his work.


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