20th-Century Photographs of Italians Doing Nothing At All

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Untitled - Gianni Berengo Gardin 010
Venice, 1958© Gianni Berengo Gardin

Take the edge off your Monday blues perusing Gianni Berengo Gardin’s archival photographs of Italy, now part of a London exhibition

The Italian idiom dolce far niente means the ‘sweetness of doing nothing’. Photographer Gianni Berengo Gardin captured the nature of this phrase over a period of 50 years, the resulting images forming the basis of a new exhibition at Prahlad Bubbar gallery in London, succinctly titled The Italians. Offering a glimpse into the leisurely aspect of an Italianate lifestyle, Beregno Gardin’s archival black and white prints capture the carefree citizens of 20th-century Venice, Rome, Milan and Naples, busy about their daily lives (or not, as the case may be).

Viewing the photographs in a modern context evokes feelings of nostalgia – they depict the palpable vibrancy of a time free from the glare of iPhone screens and the slog of a modern daily commute. Indeed, Berengo Gardin’s aim for the series is to “pass onto future generations that which is disappearing; certain traditions, certain landscapes, certain architectures”. So, this Monday, allow his work to fulfil its purpose, and take a long, relaxing lunch break – bowl of pasta and glass of red wine included – to take the edge off your blues.

Gianni Berengo Gardin: The Italians runs at Prahlad Bubbar gallery, London until October 17, 2017.