The long lost Atlante by Ghirri – its restoration and display at the MAXXI

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“Luigi Ghirri. Atlante”
at MAXXI-National Museum of 21st Century Arts

Ghirri on display at the MAXXI

The exhibition “Luigi Ghirri. Atlante” curated by Margherita Guccione, Bartolomeo Pietromarchi and Laura Gasparini, which opens on December 14th at the MAXXI-National Museum of 21st Century Arts (at 19.30 in the Sala Gian Ferrari) will be the first of a series of initiatives connected with the theme of photography that will be held on the 15th, 16th and 17th of December 2017 under the name of Passeggiate Fotografiche Romane (Roman photographic walks). These events have been organized by the Mibact (the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities) in collaboration with the City of Rome.


Consisting of a series of 41 chromogenic color photographs printed on glossy resin-coated paper, this unique collection of Ghirri’s works was purchased by a private collector in 1976 directly from the artist himself, but it was then forgotten in the collector’s home among a host of other objects, like those that all of us tend to collect in our homes. Left in their original folder for forty years, this set of prints was recently rediscovered and brought to our studio to verify its state of conservation.


The restoration of the Atlante signed by Ghirri

The images had acquired a light magenta tint over time, due to a process of chemical degradation that has not, however, seriously detracted from their intrinsic poetic beauty. It is well known how delicate and unstable the organic dyes within the image layer of a chromogenic print can be. Each dye possesses its own specific molecular structure, and they each evolve in a different way over time. Humidity, temperature, light, and various atmospheric pollutants, are the most common environmental factors that can cause the phenomenon of color-balance shift, that consists in the formation of certain dominant hues or tints of colour in the printed image.



Our conservation treatment consisted in removing some badly degenerated adhesive tapes inside the original cardboard mounting, and in effecting a dry cleaning of the surface of the prints, as well as of the mounting or passe-partout, which was signed and dated in pencil by the artist.


Each print was inserted into a conservation mounting and then put back into its original passe-partout. Finally, in order to guarantee the safety and conservation of the works during the period that they will be on display, they have been protected by a museum glass, sealed inside a second conservation mounting and placed in a protective frame.


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