Bridgeman Images are proud to represent the Fondazione Alinari per la Fotografia (Alinari Foundation for Photography - FAF)
We asked some questions to Giorgio van Straten, President of FAF, to learn more about this incredible project:
Q. Can you tell us more about the history of the Alinari Archive, one of the oldest photographic archives in the world?
A. Fratelli Alinari founded it in the mid-19th century.
Together with the usual activity of photographic studies of that time (landscapes and portraits photography), Alinari started to document Italy’s artistic heritage, creating the basis for an image archive that has been used for decades by scholars worldwide. Thanks to the commitment of a series of owners (the last of which was Claudio De Polo) the archive has grown over time and now comprises over 5,000,000 assets including transparencies, negatives, documents, cameras, books, etc.
Q. How was the Alinari Foundation for Photography created and what is its mission?
A. In 2019, the Alinari Archives were purchased by Regione Toscana, with the twin goals of safeguarding the integrity of this heritage archive and making it more accessible to scholars and the community in general. At that time it was decided that the restoration, conservation and enhancement of this huge archive required a dedicated organization: FAF Toscana - fondazione Alinari per la Fotografia (the Alinari Foundation for Photography) was born for this specific purpose.
Q. What role or responsibility do you think FAF Toscana should take on the cultural and social landscape?
A. A heritage archive that becomes public-owned must face the challenge of establishing a relationship with the community where it is located, and, at the same time, with the international community linked to the world of photography.
On one hand, the foundation aims to raise awareness of the Archives’ content and wants to facilitate access for those who want to study it. On the other hand, it also needs to make the Archive a source of income that will support and help grow all the various activities of the foundation
Q. Could you explain your role and tell us about a typical day of your life in this phase of the Foundation's development?
A. The archives have a centuries-old history but the foundation has just been set-up. It is a real start-up and therefore must be built from the scratch. My mission is to start this process both in its daily activities (from the 16th of December we are starting image licensing) and in its strategic decisions: where to place the archive, identifying the ideal location for the Museum (which is one of the central objectives of the foundation), and selecting public and private partners to work with. Days are very hectic and I hope that we will quickly appoint a director who can support me on this journey.
Q. What jobs have you done before being the president of Fondazione Alinari?
A. I am a gentleman of a certain age and the list would be very long. Let's say that for years I was involved in the management of musical institutions, then I was the president of the company that was looking after Scuderie del Quirinale and the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, then I was part of the RAI board of directors and in recent years I was director of the Italian Cultural Institute in New York.
Q. Is there an image or a photographer that you prefer within the Alinari collection?
A. For me, as for many Florentines, Alinari represents the historical memory of the city, therefore I am most attached to images that document the historic town centre of Florence when it was the Italian capital city.
If I had to choose a single image, then it would be the portrait of Giuseppe Garibaldi from 1867.
Q. Do you have any projects or exhibitions planned for the future after COVID?
A. Yes - many in fact. Here I will mention two. The first is an exhibition based on the extraordinary collection of truly unique photos (that is, photos taken before the invention of negatives) and on daguerreotypes depicting Tuscany.
The second is an exhibition about Italy produced for the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs which comprises 160 photos (and not just Alinari content) that will open in Tuscany, where it is designed and created and will then travel around the world.
Q. Why did you choose Bridgeman Images as a licensing partner?
A. Because we are a historical heritage archive and we want our name to be linked only to partners who have the same importance and credibility.
Q. What superpower would you have?
A. I wish I had the power to fly.
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