Andrea Nelli – Did you ever see a woman

Nell’inverno del 1972 l’artista Andrea Nelli visita per la prima volta New York dove, con una Leica, scatta più di 5000 fotografie. Nel paesaggio urbano vede un luogo in cui si intuisce un senso nascosto, cosi come accennano le liriche surreali della canzone di Marc Bolan utilizzate per il titolo della mostra ‘Did you ever see a woman’*. …Ed è in questa prospettiva che scopre la vitalità trasgressiva dei graffiti, ideogrammi enigmatici, che cominciavano ad apparire su treni e muri della città. Le fotografie, attraverso la casualità e l’antiretorica degli scatti, restituiscono poeticamente l’atmosfera di un momento irripetibile della città in quei lontani anni ’70.

Testo di Tiziana Musi


In the winter of 1972 the artist Andrea Nelli went to New York and took over 5000 photos with an old Leica, which were printed by the author himself in the London studio of his teacher and friend Enzo Ragazzini.  Since 1968, still very young, he begins to practice photography through a poetical dimension that has similarities to Manuel Alvarez Bravo’s works – who the author then met in 1977 in Mexico City – or the more contemporary works by Lee Friedlander. He refuses colour as an element of potential confrontation with painting – he is a painter himself – and bonds with the primal form of communication that can be found in black and white photography. He sees in urban landscape not just a geographical location, but a place where it is possible to see a hidden meaning, like the surreal words of the song by Marc Bolan used as the title of the exhibition, suggest “Did you ever see a woman”*. This change in photographic style corresponds to the discovery of a cultural rather social marginalisation: in anthropological terms the author works on numerous visual forms, excluding any form of hierarchy. It’s in this angle that he discovers the explosive energy of graffitis, the new and enigmatic characters that were sprouting and that had started to appear on trains and walls at the time. This photographs, through the rhetorical and the randomness of the shots, gives the atmosphere of a unique moment in the city in those early ’70.

Text by  Tiziana Musi

*…Did you ever see a woman / coming out from New York City / with a frog in her hand / I did don’t you know /
and don’t it show