Born in Palermo, Italy, Marco Glaviano began his career as a painter before transitioning to photography in the 1960s.
His unique artistic vision quickly propelled him to the forefront of the fashion world.
With a career spanning decades, Glaviano is renowned for his masterful use of light and shadow, creating timeless and evocative images that transcend the ordinary.
He played a pivotal role in shaping the aesthetic of fashion photography, capturing the essence of beauty and style with an unparalleled sophistication.
As a trailblazer, Glaviano's work has graced the pages of prestigious fashion magazines like Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and Elle. His collaborations with supermodels and celebrities have become iconic, contributing to the visual narrative of an era.
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Marco Glaviano: A Pioneering Journey in Photography
Born in Palermo, Sicily, in 1942, Marco Glaviano embarked on a remarkable artistic odyssey that began with his studies in Architecture at the University of Palermo. During this academic phase, his passion for photography took root and started to flourish.
In those formative years, Glaviano's artistic pursuits extended beyond photography. He engaged in set design for theater productions and pursued his love for jazz music by becoming part of a music band. Throughout the 1960s, he and his music group participated in numerous jazz festivals, where he found himself capturing evocative images of fellow musicians, marking the inception of his photographic journey.
In 1967, a pivotal decision marked the turning point in Glaviano's career as he chose to embrace the path of a photographer. He initially moved to Rome briefly before relocating to Milan, where he established a studio that became his creative hub for the next eight years.
The early 1970s witnessed Marco Glaviano's photography making its debut in major European fashion magazines, with Vogue Italia being a significant platform. This burgeoning recognition eventually led him to the vibrant world of New York City, where he made his home in 1975. In the Big Apple, Marco inked an exclusive contract with American Vogue, followed by another prestigious tenure with Harper's Bazaar from 1982 to 1994.
Since then, Marco Glaviano's lens has captured the essence of fashion and beauty for some of the most prominent magazines in America and Europe. His prolific career has resulted in more than 500 covers and editorials for internationally acclaimed publications, solidifying his stature as one of the fashion industry's preeminent photographers.
Marco Glaviano: A Fashion Photography Trailblazer
In the dynamic 1980s, Marco Glaviano played a pivotal role in shaping the Supermodel Phenomenon alongside luminaries like John Casablancas, the founder of Elite, and Monique Pillard, the President of Elite. Glaviano's influence extended to supermodels of the era, including iconic figures like Paulina Porizkova, Cindy Crawford, and Eva Herzigova. His talents led the Elite company to select him as the exclusive photographer for all their swimsuit calendars, solidifying his status as a visionary in the realm of fashion photography.
Diversifying his portfolio, Marco Glaviano has undertaken essential roles in some of the most significant advertising campaigns for renowned clients such as L'Oréal, Revlon, Calvin Klein, Valentino, Giorgio Armani, Roberto Cavalli, and more. His multifaceted interests have also led him to direct television spots and short films encompassing music, fashion, and beauty, both in the United States and Europe.
In 2001, in collaboration with Tommy Wirz, he established MILANOSTUDIO in Milan, serving as a hub for the latest advancements in digital photography.
Over the years, thirteen books celebrating Marco Glaviano's photography have been published. These volumes showcase his breathtaking portraits of the most captivating women of recent decades, alongside other favorite subjects like jazz, portraits, and landscapes. His work has graced numerous solo exhibitions in America and Europe, and his art has found its place in private collections around the world.
Beyond his illustrious career, Marco Glaviano is a proud father to three daughters: Barbara, Alessia, and Adrianna, and a beloved dog, Mr. Bentley. Currently, he divides his time between the vibrant metropolises of New York and Milan, continuing to shape the future of fashion photography with his artistic vision and technological prowess.
Marco Glaviano: A Visionary in Fashion Photography
Marco Glaviano is hailed as one of the most influential photographers in the fashion industry, and his artistic journey began in a family of artists. He is the nephew of Gino Severini, a prominent figure in Italian Futurism. Glaviano's introduction to the world of art happened at a young age, sparked by his uncle, who worked in the cinema industry and gifted him his very first camera, a Leica when he was just 5 years old.
Although he initially pursued studies in Architecture, Glaviano's destiny shifted in 1967 when he made the resolute choice to embark on a career as a photographer. Interestingly, despite his involvement in a jazz music band, he humorously recounted that at the age of 26, he realized that
"Being a photographer was the only way to get a girlfriend, as he had no luck with music."
This pivotal decision marked the genesis of Marco Glaviano's extraordinary career.
From the 1970s onwards, Marco Glaviano's photography began to grace the pages of the most prestigious fashion publications in Europe, commencing with Vogue Italia and eventually making a significant impact in the United States. In 1975, he relocated to New York and secured exclusive contracts first with American Vogue and later with Harper's Bazaar.
Throughout his illustrious career, Glaviano developed close relationships with some of the fashion world's most iconic figures, including Giorgio Armani, Valentino, and Gianni Versace. He referred to their collective journey within the fashion world as a "Group adventure," where they ventured together as "the Italians in America," contributing to the rise of the renowned Italian fashion scene. His collaborations with Giorgio Armani, in particular, yielded some of the most remarkable and significant photographs in his portfolio.
In New York, in 1995, Marco Glaviano played a pioneering role by designing and founding Pier59 Studios, which remains one of the most prominent photography studios in the world to this day. Situated at Chelsea Pier, the historic location where the Titanic was meant to dock, it offered vast dimensions and historical significance. While it is no longer Glaviano's studio, Pier59 continues to be a thriving hub in the fashion industry. It provides locations, equipment, and expertise for photoshoots, hosts numerous events, and is a prominent gathering place during New York fashion weeks, serving as a hub for runways, forums, parties, and interviews.
Marco Glaviano was also at the forefront of digital photography. In 1982, he made history by publishing the very first digital photograph in American Vogue. His expertise in digital photography led to collaborations as a consultant with notable companies, including Fuji, Hasselblad, Phase One, Sinar, and Scitex. Notably, he advocated for the transition from film to the "future" of photography, digital, which Kodak initially resisted. Today, Glaviano's foresight is evident, as digital photography has become the standard in the industry.
Marco Glaviano and Supermodels
Marco Glaviano is best known for his remarkable contributions to the world of supermodels, an era that defined an entire generation.
Together with luminaries like John Casablancas, the founder of Elite, Monique Pillard, the president of Elite, and Patrick Demarchelier, Marco Glaviano played a pivotal role in the creation of the Supermodels phenomenon. Their intention was clear: to elevate the status of models and recognize their pivotal role in promoting products. These remarkable women, often underpaid at the time, deserved to be celebrated, and this intentional choice transformed them into "monsters" of the fashion world, ultimately overshadowing even Hollywood divas of that era.
In an insightful interview with his daughter, Alessia Glaviano, featured in Vogue Italia for the launch of his retrospective book "50," Marco Glaviano shared his journey into the world of major fashion magazines. His path was set in motion when, at the age of 25-26, he traveled to Morocco for a photo shoot, accompanied by a friend and his girlfriend. That girlfriend happened to be Eva Malmstrom, a stunning model and muse to prominent photographers like Barbieri and Helmut Newton. Their connection blossomed into a relationship, and they decided to live together in Milan. It was Eva who requested Marco Glaviano to photograph her and introduced him to the fashion magazines she worked with as a model. This marked the beginning of Glaviano's association with Vogue Italia. Following Eva's move to New York, he followed her, setting the stage for his American career.
Cindy Crawford, one of Marco Glaviano's discoveries, holds a special place in his heart. Many of his photographs capture the young model in swimsuits on the beach, as well as captivating portraits showcasing a range of expressions. Glaviano considered her, along with Paulina Porizkova, another of his discoveries, as models he preferred to work with. They were intelligent, full of ideas, and proactive when it came to photo shoots.
In addition to Cindy Crawford, Marco Glaviano's eye for talent led to the discovery of supermodels like Paulina Porizkova, Eva Herzigova, and Claudia Schiffer. These iconic beauties, immortalized by Glaviano's lens, graced the most stunning covers of the 1980s. They also selected Marco Glaviano as the exclusive photographer for their highly sought-after swimsuit calendars. Paulina Porizkova, in particular, held a special place in Glaviano's heart, describing her as proactive and intuitive on set.
Marco Glaviano took pride in discovering emerging talents, nurturing their careers, and helping them grow. During that era, photographers held significant influence and could choose models for their shoots. Glaviano often clashed with clients to ensure his vision was realized.
The photographs resulting from these collaborations were born from genuine partnerships based on trust between the model and the photographer. This trust allowed for the creation of Marco Glaviano's nude model photos, as the models themselves requested such portrayals, confident in the integrity of the photographer. The trust forged in these relationships led to enduring collaborations, cementing Marco Glaviano's legacy in the world of supermodels.
Shaping the Notion of Objective Beauty
Eva Herzigova, with her timeless beauty reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe, emerged as one of Marco Glaviano's latest discoveries in the early 1990s. During an interview, the photographer spoke of this era with a touch of nostalgia, as the 1990s marked a shift in the perception of beauty, particularly in the fashion world.
This period witnessed the rise of models with a different physicality, leaner, and closer to the 'Kate Moss' archetype. Beauty became less objective, focusing on the individual's unique characteristics. Fashion and fashion photography underwent significant changes, moving away from the glossy aesthetics of the preceding years. The format of fashion magazines also evolved, aligning with new advertising directives that reduced the prominence of photographers and photographs reminiscent of the 1980s.
In the 1980s, photographers held significant influence, enjoying creative freedom and decision-making power on set. However, as the 1990s dawned, this authority shifted towards clients and their preferences.
Marco Glaviano thrived as a photographer during the exuberant 1980s, an era defined by 'glossy' beauty that adhered to ideals of objective beauty. The women he photographed embodied an aesthetic and almost universally shared notion of beauty, one that was ideal and classic. In an interview with Vogue Italia for the launch of his book "50," Glaviano shared his perspective:
"For a significant part of my career, I fought for what I believed to be beautiful, not just what people considered beautiful at the time. I know that if something is beautiful, people will look at it. Moreover, I have noticed that, for reasons I have never understood, the camera seems capable of capturing the beauty that emanates from within. If you look at these images, the most intriguing ones are those that portray people who are charming, not just externally beautiful. I believe the camera has this peculiar ability to 'capture' beauty that exists on a different level."
Today, the concept of beauty, once sought after in the fashion world and beyond, has evolved or, in some cases, disappeared. The days of crafting photographs featuring perfect, statuesque women are a thing of the past. Beautiful women still exist, but they don't necessarily fit the mold of fashion models. They may even be more beautiful than before, but the fashion industry now desires a different ideal. Beautiful women have diversified their pursuits.
Times have changed, and we must adapt to those changes. The foundational premises have shifted. Giorgio Armani, a close friend of Marco Glaviano with whom he collaborated multiple times, now views nude photography as a form of abuse and a devaluation of the female form, a feeling not so prevalent in the 1980s. Glaviano's women exude power and strength, embodying femininity deification, and beauty. In an interview, the photographer drew a comparison with Helmut Newton, another masterful photographer of women, highlighting the stark contrast in their approach to capturing female beauty.
Marco Glaviano, the photographer and aesthete, also extends his vision to the realm of photographic technique, the use of the camera, and the construction of an image. His aesthetic rigor commences with the conception of an original idea and culminates in its masterful execution, unleashing the expressive potential and giving it tangible form.
His conception of 'objective' beauty transcends mere subjectivity. It encompasses the entire image, from the initial idea, through practical realization, framing, and lighting choices. In several interviews, Glaviano emphasized that we all see the same objects, but creativity, perspective, and idea are what elevate a simple image to the realm of 'photography.' Only a select few possess the ability to achieve this transformation. Furthermore, there is no specific criterion to determine what is beautiful and what is not; no single technique or quality of light can define beauty. Beauty simply exists. An image that captivates the eye does so without the need for explanation.
Beyond Fashion - Capturing Jazz, Portraits, and Nature
While Marco Glaviano is renowned for his photography, another passion has always ignited his creative spirit - Jazz, an art form he regards as 'the most complex and innovative music ever' and 'the most important art form born in America.' At the age of 26, he embarked on a journey with a jazz band, participating in jazz festivals. During these events, he snapped his initial photographs of fellow musicians. Interestingly, musicians often requested him to photograph them, serving as a further nudge toward his photography career.
The Jazz’s world has remained a subject of fascination for Glaviano throughout the years. He has captured the essence of some of the most iconic figures in the Jazz scenario, including luminaries like John Coltrane, B.B. King, and Quincy Jones. These images hold a special place in his heart, with Glaviano stating, "To me, photographs of Jazz are more important than those of the top models."
Despite his profound connection and reverence for Jazz, he holds for Jazz photographs, Glaviano recognizes the limited market for such work, especially when compared to the demand for supermodel photography. In his view, the value of Jazz music itself has diminished in the current market.
Thus, his photographic book on Jazz serves as a love’s labor, driven by his passion and fulfillment.
Although the most famous facet of his career, fashion photography comprises only 5% of his vast portfolio.
Glaviano's interests extend far beyond that of a fashion photographer. He finds equal pleasure in capturing the essence of his city, its inhabitants, markets, and the locales of his upbringing. His work encompasses diverse landscapes, such as the breathtaking imagery found in his photographic book about Costa Smeralda in Sardinia.
Glaviano's talent is not limited to fashion photography; it transcends into portraiture, including iconic Jazz portraits, alongside those of his colleagues and friends. A notable anecdote underscores his prowess: among a myriad of images submitted for Time Magazine's "100 Best Photographs" competition, which predominantly featured war, sorrow, and hardship, the single portrait selected for publication was of Whitney Houston, captured by none other than Marco Glaviano.
With a career spanning nearly 50 years, Marco Glaviano has weathered the ever-evolving landscape of aesthetics in photography. From the liberating ethos of the 1970s and the extravagance of the 1980s to the unconventional beauty and snapshot culture of the 1990s, he has witnessed and adapted to a visual democracy where diverse forms of beauty coexist alongside classic and harmonious beauty.
Glaviano's work encompasses beauty in its many forms, be it the female form, music, landscapes, or portraits. His art transcends the boundaries of the physical and delves into the aesthetic, firmly rooted in the idea that beauty, both timeless and fleeting, is a universal essence.
Fifteen books encapsulate the multifaceted talents of Marco Glaviano, covering supermodels, Jazz, and the landscapes of his beloved Palermo and Sicily. Notable mentions include 'Marco Glaviano Sirens' and the book commemorating his 2018 retrospective '50' in Miami.
He has also held several solo exhibitions in the United States and Europe. Collaborating with esteemed galleries worldwide, such as Space Gallery in St. Barth, The Little Black Gallery in London, and Izzy Gallery in Toronto, his works have found their place in numerous private collections across the globe. These collections include those of Marta Borromeo, Galliani, Gianni Agnelli, Alberto di Monaco, multiple soccer players, and various American collectors.
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