After spending the first 22 years of his life in Sicily, Ferdinando Scianna became a specialist in the Sicilian way of life and spent many years documenting the culture of the island
"A photograph is not created by a photographer. What they do is just to open a little window and capture it. The world then writes itself on the film. The act of the photographer is closer to reading than it is to writing. They are the readers of the world"
- Ferdinando Scianna
Ferdinando Scianna started taking photographs in the 1960s while studying literature, philosophy and art history at the University of Palermo. It was then that he began to photograph the Sicilian people systematically. Feste Religiose in Sicilia (1965) included an essay by the Sicilian writer Leonardo Sciascia, and it was the first of many collaborations with famous writers.
Scianna moved to Milan in 1966. The following year he started working for the weekly magazine L’Europeo, first as a photographer, then as a journalist from 1973. He also wrote on politics for Le Monde Diplomatique and on literature and photography for La Quinzaine Littéraire.
In 1977 he published Les Siciliens in France and La Villa Dei Mostri in Italy. During this period, Scianna met Henri Cartier-Bresson, and in 1982 he joined Magnum Photos. He entered the field of fashion photography in the late 1980s and at the end of the decade he published a retrospective, Le Forme del Caos (1989).
Scianna returned to exploring the meaning of religious rituals with Viaggio a Lourdes (1995), then two years later he published a collection of images of sleepers – Dormire Forse Sognare (To Sleep, Perchance to Dream). His portraits of the Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges were published in 1999, and in the same year the exhibition Niños del Mundo displayed Scianna’s images of children from around the world.
In 2002 Scianna completed Quelli di Bagheria, a book on his home town in Sicily, in which he tries to reconstruct the atmosphere of his youth through writings and photographs of Bagheria and the people who live there.
1966 Prix Nadar (for Feste Religiose in Sicilia), France
2004 Pensar America III – Casa de América, Madrid, Spain
2003 Ferdinando Scianna – Centre Cultural Tecla Sala, Barcelona, Spain
2000 Altre Forme del Caos – Cantieri Culturali alla Zisa, Palermo, Italy
2003 Quelli di Bagheria, Peliti Associati, Italy
2002 Mondo Bambino, L’arte a stampa, Italy
2001 Obiettivo Ambiguo, Rizzoli, Italy
1999 Niños del Mundo, Ayuntamiento De La Coruña, Spain
1999 Jorge Luis Borges, Franco Sciardelli, Italy
1997 Dormire Forse Sognare, Art&, Italy ; (To Sleep Perchance to Dream), Phaidon, UK
1996 Viaggio a Lourdes, Mondadori, Italy
1995 Altrove: Reportage Di Moda, Federico Motta, Italy
1993 Marpessa, Leonardo Arte, Italy
1990 Men and Trucks, Iveco, Italy
1989 Leonardo Sciascia, Franco Sciardelli, Italy
1989 Le Forme del Caos, Art & SRL, Italy
1988 Kami, L’Immagine, Italy
1988 Città del Mondo, Bompiani, Italy
1988 Ore di Spagna (with Leonardo Sciascia), Pungitopo, Spain
1987 L’Instante e La Forma, Ediprint, Italy
1984 Henri Cartier-Bresson: Portraits (with André Pieyre de Mandiargues), Collins, UK
1984 Il Grande Libro della Sicilia, Mandadori, Italy
1983 I Grandi Fotografi : Ferdinando Scianno, Gruppo Editoriale Fabbri, Italy
1977 I Siciliani, Einaudi, Italy; (Les Siciliens), Editions Denoël, France
1965/87 Feste Religiose in Sicilia (with Leonardo Sciascia), Leonardo da Vinci Arte,
Italy; L’Immagine Editrice, Italy