Hong Kong

Massimo Vitali


Massimo Vitali might not appreciate the comparison, but every time I look at his outsize color photographs, I think of Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. The tide is not entirely irrelevant to Vitali’s subjects—crowded Italian beaches and discos as sites of mass leisure activity. But the real association is perceptual rather than thematic: It has to do with the way we look at these works and what we actually see.

For those unfamiliar with the Italian photographer’s imposing originals (approximately 59 by 71 or 71 by 83 inches), a brief caveat is in order: They reproduce about as well as Bosch’s triptych does in postcard form. It is not simply the scale that is drastically reduced but also the space, the luminosity, the range of colors, and, above all, the wealth of seemingly hyperrealist detail. In fact, each photograph is based on a rigorous geometry of planes and lines—the

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