Images of the early 20th century The Photographic Fund of the Istituto di Arti Grafiche of Bergamo for ‘Emporium’ magazine
Federico Brunetti , Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Giuliana Ricci , Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Ilaria Alberici , Politecnico di Milano, Italy

Short Paper: Short Paper 3: Case Studies

The Institute of Graphic Arts (Istituto di Arti Grafiche) in Bergamo was the first Italian publisher to equip itself with typographic apparatus for the printing of photographs on the same page as graphics and texts.

Financially supported by the italian Ministry of Education (at that time also responsible for cultural activities), it was particularly notorious for the literary contributions of eminent members of the cultural society of the early 20th century, who through this publisher found new ways to communicate their own work.

Particularly, the monthly magazine "Emporium" became an extremely advanced place for cultural discussion and divulgation from art, architecture, geography and sciences, to the most varied and eclectic cultural news typical of that period.

The contextual presence of photographs in a page enhanced the visual impact of the message, allowing an immediate interaction between the graphic text and the photographic image.

The recent identification (at the Touring Club Italiano) of the Photographic Fund of this magazine (around 20,000 images between prints and negative plates) has allowed access to the original photographic reports, sometimes unpublished, exclusively realised for the publishers of this magazine.

A fertile assortment ("Emporium"!!!) of landscapes, architecture, interiors, arts and geographic explorations of the early 20th century is presented with the quality and technical expertise of portable cameras using black and white negative plates, portraying the regions of united Italy, the current European situation and the continents before and during the world wars (approx. 1895-1945)

Part of this archive consists in albums of photographs, which had been previously microfilmed at the Società Alinari in Florence. A second part is conserved in around 5000 glass negative plates.

The fragility of this part of the archive had till now allowed only a few consultations and an approximate indexing.

In the context of a research study carried out for a graduation thesis at the Faculty of Architecture of the Politechnic in Milan, a research stage was stipulated, thanks to which it was possible to study these materials more thoroughly and digitally copy the fund of plates that had architectural themes. In this way it is possible to examine the entire fund, digitally made positive, allowing a safe, clear and extensive consultation.

This new digital recording technique allowed the extensive study on the section of the fund regarding architectural photography (about 10,000 images) in a relatively short time and permitted the highlighting of the most significant case studies, with the aim of defining certain materials as "guiding elements" to the whole archive.

The whole digitalised fund, mastered to CD-ROM, will soon be compiled in reference to the information concerning the images, according to the parameters designated by SCHEDA F.

This fund is a very clear example of a early editorial photographic archive, where the accumulation of iconographic materials was not yet completely organized, (we could not fin any general catalogue, many negative plates were not printed); but now digital tecnologies allows us to explore these delicate photographic memories with acceptable qualities for the aim to understand, in our present researches, the reason that moved these interesting reportages.


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Published: 01/09/01
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