Interview with photographer Claudio Barontini

In Art, Events
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Grand Hotel Portovenere, the luxury hotel in the Gulf of Poets between Cinque Terre and La Spezia, keeps renewing itself every year, strengthening the bond between art, culture, wine and food – both at a local and international level. Thanks to its rich calendar of events, it aims to confirm itself as a cultural hub and cosmopolitan landmark in the region of Liguria.

The year 2019 kicked off with a series of events themed “A Cena con l’Artista” (dining with the artist): three dinners dedicated to art, book presentations and wine and food tastings. One of these events presented the first preview of the photographic book “New York” by Claudio Barontini.

claudio barontini - new york

A photographer since 1973, Barontini was born in Livorno and became a professional in 1990. In addition to collaborating with various magazines, he also works with exhibitions in museums and art galleries, and is the author of photographic books such as: Portraits of celebrities (2010), Muscolai (2014), Lindsay Kemp Claudio Barontini – Disegni e fotografie (2018).

Grand Hotel Portovenere has a wide collection of his works exposed in common areas and rooms, such as large photographs of the “muscolai” (mussel farmers of the Gulf of Poets). There is a strong bond between Claudio Barontini and Grand Hotel Portovenere. Let’s discover more by speaking directly to the photographer.

Considering that you are a famous portrait photographer for celebrities: what pushed you to publish a book on New York?
It was the desire to return to a city that I discovered as a musician in 1977, trying to relive the fantastic sensations I experienced 40+ years ago. In those days, together with the singer Milva, we performed a concert at Madison Square Garden. Last autumn, instead, I went back in order to start a project on cities. I interpreted the images of the Big Apple as if they were portraits, not like a physical person, but like a “celebrity” city.

There has always been synergy between you and Grand Hotel Portovenere: your blow-up photographs of the “muscolai” are exposed in the meeting rooms, in addition to over 50 of your images that were chosen to honour the rooms of the hotel. From the Gulf of Poets to New York, what do you find in common between the two?
I can say with great pride that the Grand Hotel, at the moment, is the major collector of my author photos. The blow-up photographs taken in the Gulf of Poets, from the book “Muscolai”, and the photos in the rooms taken in the Costa Azzura, all have a great theme in common: the sea. If I was to find something in common between the photos exposed at the Grand Hotel and images in the “New York” book, I would say authenticity.

Share an anecdote on New York and the most representative photo of the book.
More than an anecdote, it’s a real situation that happened on the Brooklyn Bridge. A tranquil and anonymous tourist suddenly became a “rooftopper” and did a handstand on the edge of the railing, so naturally I took the photo. Probably this is the most representative image of the book. As written by Serafino Fasulo in the introduction: “New York is first of all the city that has transformed appearance into substance, a place where to show oneself is to exist.”

Any professional news coming up?
I continue to work with magazines. Meanwhile I am working on some new publications and a new project for an exhibition in 2020. I will celebrate 30 years since beginning my professional career (1990 – 2020).

Grand Hotel Portovenere also exposes works of art by other artists, such as Stefano Pilato, Carlo Giovannoni and Francesco Vaccarone. Stay tuned on Discover Portovenere and the official website of Portovenere Grand for the upcoming art, culture and enogastronomy events in the Gulf of Poets.

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