This article is dedicated to the Italian street photographer and portraitist Ugo Mulas who masterfully documented the miniature circus of the great sculptor Alexander Calder. To write this tribute I documented a recent Christmas event in my city Como, a wonderful exhibition of vintage toys in a forest of snow-covered pines. Take a look!
The Italian photographer Ugo Mulas (1928 – 1973) had a life-long passion for art. After his high school classical studies, he took up law at the University in Milan, but he decided not to graduate, preferring to attend the Brera Academy. He also began to visit the Jamaica Bar in Milan, frequented by great poets as Giuseppe Ungaretti, Nobel prizes winners Salvatore Quasimodo and Dario Fo, the great painter Ernesto Treccani, and another great Italian photographer who left us some weeks ago—Mario Dondero, who also became Mulas’ friend. Fascinated by this artistic world, Mulas discovered photography almost by accident. He was self-taught.
He wanted to do a critical testimony of the Milanese society, documenting the social life after the World War, from the city suburbs to the Central Train Station and moments with his friends at the Jamaica Bar. He got his first professional assignment in 1954, for which he covered the Venice Biennale. He continued to document this event for the rest of his life. In the 1960s he did reportage for many Italian magazines and began to collaborate with the theatre, experimenting with a new model of stage photography.
In 1962 he documented the Festival dei Due Mondi, an annual summer music event in Spoleto, a historical town located in Central Italy. Here he befriended the famous sculptor Alexander Calder. This great artist used simple materials such as cork plugs, wire and pieces of wood and is famous for his moving sculptures (photo by Ugo Mulas) and wonderful miniature circus, which are now part of the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum in New York.
A Salute to the Masters is a series dedicated to great photographers that I like. I posted other tributes for Walker Evans, Lee Friedlander, Helen Levitt, Ernst Haas, Stephen Shore, Gabriele Basilico, Robert Adams, Thomas Struth, J.H. Lartigue, Elliott Erwitt, Robert Frank, Gianni Berengo Gardin, André Kertész, Willy Ronis, Brassaï, Rodchenko, Dan Graham, Henry Grant, William Eggleston, Dennis Stock, Juergen Teller, Martin Parr, Peter Mitchell, Mario Giacomelli, David Burnett, Michael Williamson, Bernard Cahier, Harry Gruyaert, Bruno Barbey, Paul Strand, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Lothar Rübelt, David Goldblatt, Henry Cartier-Bresson, Raymond Depardon, Aaron Siskind, Mario de Biasi, Sabine Weiss, Jack Delano, Bill Eppridge, Édouard Boubat, Serge Moulinier, George Krause, Robert Doisneau, Ferdinando Scianna, Robert Capa, Alexey Brodovitch, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Christopher Williams, Pepi Merisio, Josef Koudelka, Christopher Anderson, Renè Burri, Mary Ellen Mark, Marc Riboud, Cornell Capa, Roger Mayne, Monte Fresco and Izis Bidermanas. I especially love street photography and urban architectural photography.