Franco Fontana featured image

An interest in colour, shape and light defines Franco Fontanaโ€™s (b. 1933) practice. Offering surprising perspectives on urban and natural landscapes.

His best-known work depicts brightly coloured landscapes.


He was born in 1933 in Modena, Italy. In the 1950s, he took photographs in a furniture showroom to decorate interiors. In 1961, he joined an amateur club in Modena. Fontana went on to have his first solo exhibition in 1965 at the Societaire Fotografique Subalpine, Turin, and in 1968 at the Galleria della Sala di Cultura in Modena. Since then, he has participated in over 400 group and solo shows.

Fontana has shot advertisements for brands such as Fiat, Volkswagen, Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, Snam, Sony, Volvo, Versace, Canon, Kodak, Robe di Kappa, Swissair, and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and The New York Times.

The first book, Skyline, was released in 1978 by Contrejour and Punto e Virgola in Italy with the help of Helmut Gernsheim.

Fontana is the Toscana Fotofestival’s Art Director.

He won awards, such as the Tokyo Society of Photographers Japan 150 Years of Photography Award in 1989.

Style and critical reception

Fontana is interested in the interplay of colours. His work in colour photography in the 1960s was groundbreaking. Scimรฉ contends that Fontana “destroys all the traditional Italian structures, practises, and technical choices.” Fontana uses 35mm cameras and as noted by Iwan Zahar, utilises telephoto lenses to give images in a landscape of crops and fields a grainy, intense quality. This can be described as “dialectical landscapism.” Diana Baldon, the curator of the 2019 Sintesi exhibition at the Fondazione Modena Arti Visive, has noted that

He’s a master of shimmering, bright colours, level compositions, and geometric forms.”

Taking this approach in the 1960s, Fontana revitalised the field of creative colour photography. Multicolor was not popular in art photography.

In Fontana’s shooting, the objects lose three-dimensional quality and realism, transforming into abstract drawings.

Fontana’s graphic design has been applied to other subjects, such as city architecture, portraiture, fashion, still life, and the nude.

Fontana’s photos have also been used as cover art for ECM Records’ jazz releases.


Wikipedia contributors. (2021, March 26). Franco Fontana. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:58, June 7, 2021, from

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