Biagini was born in Carrara, where he still
lives and works in his photographic studio in dimmed
light. A studio full of books, antique objects, lutes
hanging on the walls, a Mac with two giant screens with
streams of photographs and that scent of pipe that lingers
A significant remark of his is: ... isolating a scene,
a mood and then stopping it in time has perhaps always
been an enjoyable way of life for me. A goal I have
pursued since I was a child...
Since a very young age, he has been attracted by the
world of images. In 1968, he set up his first darkroom
at home where he began to print small format photographs
taken with a 35 mm camera on a contact printer.
His interest then moved to large formats, landscape
photographs in black and white. This was a choice dictated
by the curiosity and fascination for the Carrara quarries
which he explored far and wide, first riding his inseparable
Vespa and then aboard his all-purpose Volkswagen Beetle.
In the late '70s, Luigi Biagini began a bizarre and
unusual photographic research that took the name of
"smoke pictures". These photographic
experiments, as he called them, were connected and dictated
by a study, mixed with curiosity, that at the time he
was carrying out on the unconscious and our aura.
A new way to represent our experiences and our inner
life, through developing and printing pictures, as if
these smoke photographs, through an evocative and compelling
interpretation, said something about us, something which
our conscious mind doesn't see.
After the esoteric series of "smoke pictures",
Biagini began following the idea of that secret place
that photography creates by relating his sensitivity
with the world and the variety of its aspects.
In the 80s, he began studying Ansel Adams and his zone
system that enabled him to transfer the light he observed
into specific densities on negatives and then on paper,
thereby managing a better light balance in the developing
Moreover, again in the wake of Adams, he was attracted
by Group f/64 since in the 30s these photographers wanted
to reproduce daily life objectively without the aid
of technology, in the manner and spirit of how Luigi
Biagini photographed in the same period.
The delightful sensations aroused by the lively and
diverse images of the marble quarries in his Carrara
drove him to photograph places, situations, people at
work, machinery, the nature of the quarries and then
sculpture workshops, sculptures and sculptors for the
next twenty years.
It can be said that his photographs stand as an extraordinary
witness of time, a time that flows inexorably and is
fortunately enchanted by his sensitivity. In fact, at
the beginning of the 80s, his pictures accompanied the
transition from the helicoidal wire to the diamond wire,
a radical change in the technique of cutting marble.
Through his pictures, he shows the striking transformation
of the landscape of the marble quarries
where many roads made of earth and stones were then
asphalted, suddenly signs were placed, almost defacing
the landscape rather than giving information, and gates
and fencing systems were put up to indicate private
property, thereby preventing the curious visitor or
strange foreigner from entering.
In these years of great transformation of the quarries,
Luigi Biagini?s interest shifted to focus much more
on the marble itself, no longer on marble as an enchanted
landscape but on its unique features and its essence
between contrasts of light and shade creating abstract
or figurative images similar to sculptures or drawings.
He no longer photographed the landscape to describe
the environment, the places, the nature, but rather
to show an interior landscape that comes out of the
marble, from its skin, which the book published in 1998,
entitled La pelle del Monte (the skin of the
In conjunction with this new research in the mid-80s,
Luigi tells me vividly that he began to shoot a photo
story on the dirt tracks of the Tuscan countryside and
the atmosphere you could feel travelling along the "white
roads", as he likes to call them.
So began this enchanting adventure, one day by chance,
even if chance is never by chance, taking a secondary
road, a beautiful white road crossing the countryside
from Certaldo to San Gimignano.
Having left an old road, always busy and full of trucks,
for a new one was an opportunity to explore new landscapes
of lush vegetation and elegant cypress trees and enjoy
pleasant scents. It was an opportunity to observe people
in the fields, elderly people sitting outside the door
quietly in their world, people playing cards drinking
red wine under a pergola and carefree children running
and enjoying themselves.
Then, with a smile, he says he experienced an extraordinary
sense of peace and that just travelling on that white
road forgotten by time was a succession of emotions,
euphoria and desires captured forever in images by his
Luigi always likes to return to the places he has photographed
after some time to see if they still have a captivating
effect on his inner eye.
However, as often happens, progress brings with it an
uninspiring change which for him is like the sense of
degradation he had witnessed, in the name of progress,
in the world of the quarries of Carrara.
The wonderful memories of the white road and its landscape
that led straight to the heart was changing radically
and by chance, those places had been photographed.
A period of irreversible change that the beautiful Tuscan
countryside suffered in such an undignified and improbable
manner due to inexorable progress led him to intensify
his observations into frames to freeze the atmosphere.
Moreover, he aimed to raise public and government awareness
to avoid the indiscriminate disfigurement and brutality
to the landscape seen and experienced as a common asset.
This is how the splendid publications of the books Le
Vie Bianche in Toscana (The white roads in Tuscany)
in 2002 and Le Vie Bianche della campagna senese
(The White Roads of the Siena countryside) in
2004 came about. They are accurate testimonials in the
artistic sense of nature that in the form of landscapes,
places and people represented the contemporary manifestation
of economic development.
In this sense of photography as a tool for social awareness,
we can compare the meaning and art of Biagini?s photography
with that of the American William Eugene Smith, one
of the greatest documentary photographers of the twentieth
This remark by Luigi, which he repeated to me several
times in one of our many conversations, is emblematic:
Even if my images do nothing to curb the onslaught of
asphalt and concrete in the countryside, they will surely
remain as a historical memory of the enchanted landscape.
It is also important and right to recall that in this
period Biagini donated a series of photographs on the
Tuscan countryside to the Victoria and Albert Museum
From the Tuscan countryside he moved to Emilia Romagna,
a fertile land of white roads to cross and photograph
at any time, looking for fleeting moments that could
become eternal, the flow that becomes the essence of
movement. A moment caught by the photograph that turns
into an imaginary image, an image that contains in itself
the essence of time becoming a sublime metaphysical
In addition, in 2008 he published a photo book of the
city of Ferrara entitled: Ferrara: Terra, Acqua
e Sapori (Ferrara: land, water and flavours)
and began a series of personal exhibitions in various
towns around Emilia on the white roads of Ferrara.
Also in 2008, after years of travels, visits to Tuscany
and endless photographs from the very first hours of
dawn to dusk, from the blinding glare of the sun to
the wet grey or drizzle that creates atmosphere, Biagini
published a book of photographs entitled Viaggio
nei Luoghi Danteschi in Toscana (A journey through Dante's
haunts in Tuscany).
This extraordinary, skilful work, condensed into a book,
was appreciated and recognised by the Dante Alighieri
Society in Rome, to such an extent that in 2011, through
the contribution of the Ministry for Culture, he was
given the assignment to photograph the Italian
landscape in the Divine Comedy.
A prestigious and important assignment that would require
a long time to complete considering that the client
was and is among the leading experts competent on the
All doubt put aside, Luigi embarked on a photographic
journey into the past, relying solely on the reading
of Dante?s works. Moreover, these suggested, as a source
of inspiration, a credible route to find and photograph
only those places that Dante could have seen and experienced,
thus eliminating from his lens everything that did not
belong to this period and context.
The other method he followed to produce the documentary
shoot in Dante?s haunts, was to ask himself before taking
the picture: Can I see Dante pass by in this picture...?
A photographic interpretation acquired in the previous
publication relating to Dante that validated the frame
and ensured the sense and meaning of the shot.
Hence, as for other occasions, after many trips and
countless shots, this "adventure" took shape:
the search for the landscape where Dante spent part
of his life, in a photo book published in 2012 entitled
Il paesaggio italiano nella Divina Commedia
(The Italian landscape in the Divine Comedy).
This was crowned by two unforgettable photographic exhibitions,
the first commemorative in 2011 for the celebration
of ?150 years of the unification of Italy" in Turin
at the Royal Palace, in the Chiablese Palace. While
the second exhibition in 2012 at the Museum of the De
Lieto Palace in Maratea accompanied a Convention with
the Director-General for cultural and natural heritage,
Attilio Maurano, the director for cultural and natural
heritage, Francesco Canestrini, and the General Councillor
of the Dante Alighieri Society in Rome, Francesco Sisinni.
The latter, on that occasion, declared publicly that
it would become a travelling exhibition in Italy and
From 2011, after the advent of the digital age, Luigi
Biagini went back to photographing marble, but this
time his exploration was aimed at training his eye to
see a detail, search for colours and shades that could
be highlighted or contrasted in an image. Clearly, this
compositional study was stimulated and facilitated by
technology since a professional digital camera allows
for a considerable increase in and optimisation of colours
and speed in the vision of the image shot as well as
the possibility of retouching it on the computer. Over
time, by fine-tuning his eye and technique, Luigi changed
his shots with plays on symmetries that allowed him
to create new abstract visions.
Once he had acquired and perfected this technique of
changing the reality of the image, Luigi went further
in his experimentation. From these abstracted visions,
stemming from symmetrical reproductions, he added his
own alchemy, as he defined it, which gave a higher or
lower percentage of colour to the colour already in
the image, thus altering its hue.
As Panoramix's magic potion that is the only guardian
of the secret recipe, so these alchemical formulas
are secretly guarded by Luigi and only he knows the
number, the weight and the quantity of ingredients to
achieve these photographic alchemies that are at the
centre of his research today.