Franco Pinna was one of Italy’s foremost exponents of NeoRealism in photography. It should come as no surprise therefore, that during his lifetime he also worked repeatedly with Italian film director and scriptwriter Federico Fellini, one of the most influential filmmakers of the 20th century.
Born in 1925 in La Maddalena, an island north of Sardinia, Franco Pinna began his career as professional photographer at the beginning of the 1950s during the boom of Neorealism. At the time, he worked mostly as a freelance photojournalist for newspapers.
In 1952, Pinna accompanied anthropologist Ernesto de Martino on an important research mission in the south of Italy. During these years, Pinna created some of his most important masterpieces in neorealism, including the shot below taken in Lucania, southern Italy. The photo shows a woman known as a prefica (or lamentatrice), a professional figure at funeral rites who was paid for her theatrical manifestation of despair, a practice still in use in southern Italy since ancient Rome times.
Pinna documented reflections of a culture which, due to the development of modern society, was doomed to disappear. His source of interest was not limited solely to the South of Italy, so much so that in 1956, this time with anthropologist Franco Cagnetto, he visited the most degraded suburban villages around Rome. Here he collected a striking series of images picturing the misery and dirt of a hidden side of town; one abandoned in the shadows of other areas booming in the wake of economic prosperity.
At around this time, Pinna also became the official photographer of Federico Fellini. He documented eight of Fellini’s films, including Juliet of the Spirits and Casanova.
Pinna died in Rome in 1978 at the age of 53. A collection of his prints and slides, donated to the Cineteca Bologna by his wife, Anna Maria Greci, can be viewed only by appointment.