Milan is a city known for its awe-inspiring architecture, with famed examples ranging from the Gothic to the Art Deco and stretching on into modern iterations. The city’s cathedral is an iconic Gothic structure in the Piazza Duomo, and arguably one of its most well-known buildings – but Milan is also home to myriad modern churches, something that photographer Stefan Giftthaler has made the subject of his latest series. “These churches were built by very important Italian architects such as Gio Ponti, Muzio, Canella, Bacciocchi, Figini, Carlo De Carli, Mangiarotti and Morassutti, Achille Castiglioni, Arrigo Arrighetti, and many more,” Giftthaler explains, indicating the scope and storied history of the project, which was shot in collaboration with Anticàmera, a Milanese location agency. “The churches portrayed in this project, built since the 1950s, tell a significant part of the history of Milan and its outlying areas,” says Annalisa Rosso, of Anticàmera. “They tell everything from the burgeoning population after World War II up to the Catholic Church’s new requirements for renewal and dialogue with contemporary times, expressed by the Second Vatican Council.”
“I have focused on materials and the very cool vintage aesthetics – that sometimes veer towards kitsch too – and tried to avoiding shooting religious symbols,” says Giftthaler. The composition of his photographs makes for fascinating viewing; a figure sculpted in a classical style is encased in a cylindrical tunnel structure, creating a juxtaposition that continues throughout the church’s façade, where relief sculptures front concrete columns which stand underneath the distinctly modern, Le Corbusier-esque building. Elements of contrast are central to Giftthaler’s series, where an angular, pointed glass window might jut out from a stone-fronted church, or a building’s geometric exterior is tempered by its pastel colours. Giftthaler’s clever camera angles accentuate the sharp lines of the structures, as they shoot and spiral across the frame against the backdrop of a blue – sometimes grey – sky. These churches are the quiet siblings of the Gothic Cathedral, but are to be marvelled at in equal measure nonetheless.