Francesco Scavullo

Art & Expression: Francesco Scavullo

Hi guys! Here, I'm back with my columns, Art and Expression. This month I'd like to introduce one of my artists ever, one of the most talented and controversial photographer of 20th century specialized in fashion photography, famous for his work on the covers of Cosmopolitan magazine and for his celebrity portraits. In an imaginary, it's an honor to present Francesco Scavullo.

Tell us about you.
I was born in Staten Island 93 years ago in a family of italian descent and, since I have memory, I've always had a camera in my hands. I love to capture the expressiveness of a face, immortalize the female figure, its beauty, and make it penetrating, complete, authentic. I dedicated all my life to photography, working for the most prestigous fashion magazines like Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Cosmopolitan and immortalizing the most shining stars of cinema, music and fashion to which of them I gave a piece of my heart.

Taking a look to your shots is evident that you have photograph in your blood. When your passion is born?
I remeber I was a kid, I was about 4 or 5 years old, I saw Greta Garbo in Queen Christina and, bewitched by her close-ups, I began to develop my interest for photography and cinematic art. I started to browse my mother's magazines and I decided that it was the job I would have done by adult. I turned the closet in my house in a darkroom practicing in taking pictures to my sisters and readjusting them with self-thaught techniques. 

How did you come to fashion world?
Soon my love for photography took over the study, so I dedicated myself, body and soul, to my passion. I did some work and then, when I was sixteen, became assistant of fashion photographer Horst P. Horst at Vogue Magazine: I learned so much form him, not only lighting techiniques as well as photographing people and interact with them. And after a year at Harper's Bazaar I had my first important engagement at Seventeen for which I undertook my first covers. From that moment I started to collaborate with magazines like Time, Rolling Stone and Life

You have portrayed some of the most iconical characters of 20th century: from Andy Wharol to Salvador Dalì, passing by Mick Jagger, Sting and Kate Moss. How was to photograph so many pieces of history so different from each other?
It was like to catch in each of them a unique essence, the one that does you make the difference. Each of them marked the world in a personal and indelible way. Janis Joplin, for example, beautiful in her simplicity, was a free spirit, a symbol of the counterculture revolution. Well, it has been for me as if, photographing them, I contributed impress their memory.

There's someone do you rember in particular?
Surely Gia (Carangi, ndr), she was my favourite. I loved her energy, her spontaneity, her being herself despite all odds. She was like my soul mate, so brave and relaxed, disarmingly beautiful, shining like a star that is off too early.

You defined your crisis from bipolar depression as "neurotic euphoria". What do you mean?
I've never considered my disease a limitation of my job, or better still. Photography has always been the best of therapies to me and I think that these moment of crisis, this my neurotic euphoria, contributed to increase my creativity.

Your shots are, inevitably, linked to photogarphic tradition, to light contrasts and exposure but you also assisted to the advent of digital photography. How much, in your opinion, modern technology affected the essence of photographic art?
I wouldn't say "affected", that depends on your personal taste, you know. There are so many great works made in digital, from catch a light to everything else but, personally, I think that photograph has a poetry behind it, something than I can't describe with words. Digital is colder, as a bigger detachment. Film is different, is hot, you can touch it, experiment with it, play, drawn on negatives, you can do everything. Obvioulsy nobody invents anything, everything has been tried and done. The important is to be creative and reuse what we have left of the past in a more original way, that's the real difficulty.

There's any suggestion you could give to those who, like you, started for passion and as autodidact?
Since I was kid I wanted to photograph something beautiful and I knew that one day I would have done it. This to say that the only advice I could give you to cultivate your passions, to study, experiment, dare sometimes and, above all, do not stop to try. You have to try to get what you want.

Future project?
Keeping to be an inspiration for the world.

I hope you guys will appreciate this strange interview. It was my personal tribute to an artist I admire and that inspired in so many ways that I can't even explain. 
I hope you like it! See you next time with Art & Expression!

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