Elisabetta Catalano was an Italian photographer best known for producing stark, striking black and white portraits. Self-taught, Catalano began her career as a contributor to Vogue Italia, Il Mondo and L’Espresso, amongst other international publications. In 1971, Catalano worked in New York for Vogue America and also in Paris for Vogue France, before going on to take an acting role as Anouk Aimee’s sister in Federico Fellini’s iconic film ‘8 ½’. Whilst working with Fellini, Catalano would take photographs behind the scenes. These images would go on to be published in L’Espresso, leading Fellini to invite Catalano to photograph on the set of his other films.
Consequently, Catalano became best known as the eye witness to an entire generation of celebrities - photographer to film stars and fashion icons. Catalano’s photograph of Brazilian actress of Brazilian actress Florinda Bolkan, published in Vogue in 1968, encapsulates her ability to the glamour and beauty of celebrity with empathy and sensitivity. Catalano would, however, move beyond the world of celebrity and into the artworld, photographing some of the most important avant-garde artists of the 1970s; Joseph Beuys, Gilbert & George, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Vettori Pisani amongst others.
Increasingly, Catalano acted as participant and collaborator in the creation of artworks. In 1971 Catalano began collaborating with Fabio Mauri, documenting his performance actions, theatrical installations and projections, producing works which the artist regards as her most important artistic creations. Catalano’s photographs of Mauri’s performances were revisited in 1993, attesting to their significance not only as supplementary material to Mauri’s practice, but as artworks in their own right.