Born in Senigallia in1925, Mario Giacomelli’s path as a photographer is probably the least typical one can imagine for one who has bacome a master of this art. The son of a very poor family, during his childhood Mario would follow his mother to the town shelter where she worked as a washer woman. At 13, he began to work for a printing firm, fascinated by the endless possibilities of creating and dismantling words and images. At the same time, he painted, took part enthusiastically in car racing and secretly wrote poetry.
In 1954 he bought his first camera and between 1954 and 1957 he entered numerous photographic competitions in Italy. After completing his first body of work entitled “Life in the shelter”, depicting images of the old and infirm at his mother’s workplace, he began a series of male and female nudes, which he gave >up in the 60’s.
Assailed by the desire to analyse of his own narrator’s identity, Giacomelli began travelling; but they were only brief forays into other ways of life, rather than real journeys, which served to remind him of the social exclusion of his childhood. Various situations and stimuli then lead Giacomelli to visit towns around Italy. In Spring 1957 he went to Scanno, a village in central Italy which had already fascinated Cartier- Bresson, where Giacomelli produced such masterpieces as “Scanno Boy”.
On the birth of Giacomelli’s son , tragically born disabled, the family visited France for a brief period. They travelled to Lourdes, a site of great spirituality and renowned for healing, where Giacomelli produced some amazingly powerful and emotional images. In the Sixties, Giacomelli worked on the project en titled ”No hands caress my face”, better known as ”Pretini” series, which is an almost performance-lead body of work taken in the seminary of Senigallia and later shown at Cologne Photokina in 1963. At the same time, John Szarbowski, the Head of the Department of Photography of MOMA in New York, bought some pictures of ”Scanno”, and published one in his book entitled ”Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art”.
Fueled by his recent success with the ”Pretini” series, shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and also in Brussels, in 1967, Giacomelli began new, abstract study on wood. In the 70s he improved his study on nature, combining his first aerial views with his first venture into using colour in his photography. From the end of the Seventies, which w &ere characterised by a more tighter link between photography, abstract art and poetry, Giacomelli went through a period of analysis and reinvestigation of his own artistic activity. Still today Giacomelli is continually elaborating and reassembling the images from his past years towards new projects related to various poetic works.