Carla Sozzani’s Latest Exhibit Spotlights Nature’s Wonders

MILAN — In addition to her affinity for fashion, Carla Sozzani’s passion is photography.

The 10 Corso Como founder has been a patron of photography over the years and her foundation includes works from a broad range of photographers — David LaChapelle and fashion photographer Sarah Moon among them.

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Her foundation Fondazione Sozzani will unfurl its latest exhibit Saturday, “Between Art and Nature,” and includes a selection of photos from her own collection. It will be staged in a 17th century building that was once the Orsoline San Carlo Convent and marks her first time exhibiting at the Lake Como Design Festival and showing parts of her collection dedicated to the wonders of nature, seen through a photographer’s lens. The array includes some 80 works from photographers past and present, including Moon’s 2007 photo “The Ring,” Richard Misrach’s “Road Blockade and Pyramides” shot in 1989 and Karl Blossfeldt’s “Aristolochia Clematitis,” 1928.

What do all these photographs have in common? “My eye,” Sozzani said matter-of-factly in an interview with WWD. Sozzani’s first nature photography discovery happened about 30 or 40 years ago, as she was flipping through the pages of a German book and discovering the work of Blossfeldt, who started his career as a sculptor and later became known for his photographic study of botanical specimens in his 60s.

Karl Blossfeldt
“Aristolochia Clematitis” by Karl Blossfeldt.

Now in its fifth edition, Lake Como Design Festival will run Saturday to Sept. 24. Sozzani’s exhibit will be open to the public until Oct. 14. This year, organizers have chosen “Naturalis Historia” as the overall theme. Inspired by the homonymous work by Pliny the Elder, it’s a tribute to his work as a naturalist and his observations of the animal and plant worlds.

“Between Art and Nature” was curated by Fondazione Sozzani’s Maddalena Scarzella with the aim of demonstrating how nature is a constant source of inspiration, study, reference, veneration, estrangement, comfort.

Richard Misrach's 1989 photo, Road Blockade and Pyramides
Richard Misrach’s 1989 photo, “Road Blockade and Pyramides.”

“Nature of course… it is in everyone’s conversation these days. What’s going on with the planet and what we can do to help is on everyone’s mind and this [exhibit] is all about going back to the roots of what the world really means,” Sozzani said.

The former founding editor-in-chief of Italian Elle opened the Galleria Carla Sozzani in 1990 and later formed the Fondazione Sozzani in 2016, which promotes culture through the fine and applied arts. The foundation also focuses on education, responsibility and awareness and promotes circular fashion. Sozzani admits she used to take black-and-white pictures. “Today I prefer to live moments with my own eyes, and if I spend my time taking pictures, I don’t live the moment,” she said, adding that one of the common threads that ties all these pictures lies in her own passion and curiosity.

“If I get something that makes me feel good, this is the best investment… So that’s why probably they all have the same feeling because this is the sensibility, I feel connected with, I feel good with.”

Sarah Moon’s 2007 photograph “The Ring.”

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