Atelier Iginio Balderi

Romano Cagnoni

Eye on Humanity

Milan from  September 23rd  to October 31st 2023

Inauguration September 23rd 6.30pm

“The best photograph for me is a human document of visual impact. Document in the sense that relates to existence. Human because it tells the state of mind of the person, and all of this must have a visual impact that makes it memorable”.

Romano Cagnoni, Maledetti Fotografi, 2015

This is the synthesis of the path followed by Romano Cagnoni in his work, being on the spot and never losing sight of the human side, especially in the most dramatic of situations such as war.

The existential situations explored by Romano Cagnoni allowed him to see the emotions of human beings laid bare. This is what interested him, what he photographed.

He was on the frontline to document war actions, and to show behind the scenes everyday life with the unspeakable pain of populations overwhelmed by conflicts.

He did all of this with an ability to see beyond the facts of ordinary photojournalistic reporting. He narrated events destined to irreversibly change the world order in a succession of frames capable of arousing attention, reflection, curiosity and amazement.

Consecrated in the history of photojournalism for the reportages that took him to the hottest spots on the planet, from North Vietnam in ’65, where he accessed as the first independent Western photographer, managing to portray Ho Chi Minh, to Biafra in ’68-’69, making the world discover the bloodiest conflict in postcolonial Africa and which earned him the covers of the most important international magazines and the prestigious Overseas Press Award, from Bangla Desh in ’71, closed to all journalists, to South America with Fidel Castro, Salvador Allende and Juan Peron, and in Northern Ireland and the last years of the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Salassie in ’72, the Yom Kippur war in ’73, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in ’80 and in Poland in ’81, to continue in former Yugoslavia in the ’90s, in Chechnya in ’95 and in Syria in 2015, at the age of 80.

On closer inspection, Romano Cagnoni has written a synthesis of contemporary world history in images. Observed with the distance of time, his photographs have become universal “signs” which, having exhausted their documentary function, testify in a lucid and sensitive way the extraordinary and dramatic history of man.

IMP Festival

Romano Cagnoni

Anno Zero. Biafra 1968-1969


Padova,  from May 26th to June 25th 2023

At the end of the 1960s Romano Cagnoni left Lisbon on a DC7 loaded with ammunition to go to Biafra with the intention of documenting a conflict at the time, as he himself stated: «little followed by newspapers because there were no strong political or economic interests». And it was because of his perseverance in recounting it that the public began to take an interest in the situation.

The courage and refinement of the author are the essential elements of a narrative entered into history of the great international photojournalism, not only for the ability to document and make known to the world what was happening in this territory of Africa, but for having been able to make universal the stories he met along his path.

Touching reports, which were published by Life and other magazine around the world, earning him the prestigious Overseas Press Award.

Tragic images of undernourished children, heartbreaking faces of desperate mothers and iconic photo of 150 soldiers Igbo on the day of recruitment, photography that the editor of the Sunday Times, Harold Evans, called “a powerful image of war and sacrifice”.

Photographer of conflicts and the human condition, he said with conviction that what must transpire in a photo are essentially human feelings in their immediate naturalness and contradiction. In this sense Cagnoni witnessed the war and spectator of the pain, which he reported with great sensitivity.

Festival Fotografico Europeo 2023

Romano Cagnoni

War And Humanity

Legnano, from  march 18th to April 25th 2023

by Benedetta Donato

Romano Cagnoni Foundation

Do not lose sight of the human side even in the most dramatic situations.

Observing today the work of Romano Cagnoni, this seems to be the synthesis of his path, characterized by the many photographic campaigns made in the hottest fronts of the world. And perhaps you understand better his attitude not to consider himself a war photographer, but a photographer who knew how to document a war, a photographer and that’s all.

From the reports that have made the world discover the tragedy of Biafra and that have earned him the most important international magazines covers and the prestigious Overseas Press Award, to North Vietnam, where he accesses as the first Western non-Communist photographer, managing to portray a smiling Ho Chi Minh, to South America of Fidel Castro and Salvador Allende, to arrive at deeply compromised territories, such as those of the countries of the Middle East and the former Yugoslavia.

Events destined to irreversibly change the balance of world geopolitics, which Cagnoni reports in images not aimed exclusively at the ordinary photojournalistic chronicle, but goes beyond. Stopping in places, choosing to tell the complex realities, through the faces and stories of the people. For this reason, even today, his photographs are able to arouse wonder in those who observe them.

An exhibition that sheds new light on the path of this extraordinary author, on the associations with figures, such as Simon Guttmann and Graham Greene, with images characterized by great visual and emotional impact, where to emerge is the sense of deep truth, thanks to a rare and tangible sensitivity to universal themes of humanity.

Because, as the author himself said: “The best photograph for me is a human document of visual impact. Document in the sense that it relates to existence. Human because it tells the state of mind of the other. And all this must have a visual impact that makes it memorable.”*


* Romano Cagnoni, on Maledetti Fotografi, published interview in 2015


Romano Cagnoni

The Phenomenon of Life

Pietrasanta, from June 17th to September 2nd 2018

Inauguration June 16th 2018

Romano Cagnoni "The Phenomenon Of Life"
Romano Cagnoni "The Phenomenon Of Life"
Romano Cagnoni "The Phenomenon Of Life"
Romano Cagnoni "The Phenomenon Of Life"
Romano Cagnoni "The Phenomenon Of Life"

The Phenomenon of Life is the first tribute exhibition dedicated to Romano Cagnoni, one of the best known photo-journalists in the world, who passed away in January of this year. The exhibition, curated by Benedetta Donato and Serena Del Soldato, aims to retrace, as never before, both the human and professional experiences of a Man who called himself a “total photographer”. As Cagnoni stated several times: “Total photography tells the story of man, the relationship with himself, with his neighbour and the society in which he lives”.

In this exhibition, the photographer’s vast body of work is approached through a careful selection of vital elements, which though far from exhaustive, offer a reading focusing on the most significant aspects of his work, so better to understand the photographer’s total output and approach. It is a question then both of a tension between and attitude to his subjects maintained by Cagnoni throughout, in seeking, in every dramatic event he focused on, a vision beyond any immediate reality presented.

Remaining faithful to the genre of photojournalism itself, in his own sharing of the fundamental importance of the image as information and its undeniable impact, his lens has always captured the full essence of the lives and situations he chose to photograph. Adopting the photographer’s own attitude then, the exhibition presents a careful selection of his major photographs, but accompanied by contact sheets too. So, in representing the photographer’s own selection of published photographs, but from a wide choice of images, making it possible to capture moments characterizing still illusive situations, and less known visual anecdotes too, in Cagnoni’s search for any particular shot. In short, his work in context.

The exhibition’s specific design aims to make the work of Romano Cagnoni even more closely known and understood, so famous for images that have now become part of the collective memory.  Like his shots in Biafra during Nigeria’s civil war, the portraits of President Ho Chi Minh in North Vietnam, or of New Guinea, where his poetic portrait of a pregnant girl walking on stilts is so immediately memorable. There is no photograph that does not tell its own truth, the result of a precise path of choices, driven by huge vivacity and great imagination, far from rhetoric too, and fueled by Cagnoni’s rare sense of vision and his search for the image that always arouses wonder. Photographs then that know how to speak of something connecting directly to the whole phenomenon of life.




curated by Benedetta Donato





“The best photograph for me is a human document of visual impact. Document in the sense that relates to existence.

Human because it tells the state of mind of the person and all of this must have a visual impact that makes it memorable”.


Romano Cagnoni, Maledetti Fotografi, interview published in 2015


Being on the spot and choosing to tell reality through the faces and stories of men, managing to focus on their moods is the path taken by Romano Cagnoni, to reveal history in the course of changes and revolutions.

His narration of events is destined to irreversibly modify the order of the world – from the widely documented photojournalist – it becomes a succession of fragments capable of arousing amazement, when the point of view adopted moves the attention to the less obvious element, the most imperceptible, beyond the ordinary news chronicle. It is an innovative process that the photographer implements, communicating his own idea of reality and restoring it to a new unedited vision. A continuous challenge perpetrated on the field: from work on North Vietnam (1965), as a single western photographer to be admitted to the territory , to the award-winning reports in Biafra (1968-1970), among the first correspondents to document the phenomenon of starving children, of the masses who lost their individuality, of the oppressed who tried to emerge as a people of resistance; and again from Chile before the Coup at the hands of Pinochet (1971), to Argentina during the return of Peron (1972), to the revolution in Romania (1989) or to daring and never experienced productions, such as the preparation of unlikely sets in the fields of combat, to portray the Chechen guerrillas or the use of the optical bench, to bring back the destruction of the conflict in every single detail in the territories of the former Yugoslavia.