The exhibition “Oliviero Toscani. Professione fotografo” will open to the public on April 4th, 2023 (until August 26th, 2023) at Castello Carlo V in Monopoli, promoted by the Department of Culture of the Municipality of Monopoli. The Maestro will be present at the inauguration.

Curated by Nicolas Ballario and Lorenzo Madaro, the exhibition brings together the most iconic photographs of Oliviero Toscani, but also the lesser-known ones, taken from the early 1960s to the present day. On display all the great campaigns created by Toscani, but without any commercial logos, because his characteristic has always been to use the advertising medium without showing the product, so each photograph could be applied to any brand.

Some of the public or critics have identified Toscani as an ‘advertiser’, but his story and his vocabulary say something very different: Oliviero Toscani is a photographer, an artist who is convinced that the effectiveness of a message is manifested in the widest possible dissemination. Therefore, he is not an advertiser who uses photography, but an artist who uses the channels of advertising as a means and never as an end.

Among the works present the famous Jesus Jeans manifesto ‘Who loves me, follows me’, Kiss between priest and nun from 1992, the Three Hearts White/Black/Yellow from 1996, No-Anorexia from 2007 and many others, including images created for the fashion industry (from Donna Jordan to Claudia Schiffer, up to Monica Bellucci) as well as those of the period of her training at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich..

The exhibition also includes dozens of portraits of personalities who have “changed the world”, such as Mick Jagger, Lou Reed, Carmelo Bene, Federico Fellini, and the greatest cultural figures from the 70s onwards. Additionally, there is the “Razza Umana” project, with which Oliviero Toscani has travelled to hundreds of squares around the world to photograph anyone who wanted to be part of it, giving life to the largest photographic archive in existence on the morphological and social differences of humanity, with over 10,000 portraits.

The exhibition will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. and from 4.30 p.m. to 9 p.m. until 30 June 2023. From 1 July 2023, it will be open continuously from 10 a.m. to midnight.


Tickets: € 10.00 (€ 6.00 reduced, € 5.00 per person for school groups)

Tickets can only be purchased at the box office. Payment by bank transfer is also possible.

Reservation is not compulsory.

Guided tours are available upon reservation.

Admission is free for minors accompanied by parents, people with disabilities and accredited journalists.

Information and reservations:

Toscani nasce a Milano nel 1942 ed è figlio d’arte: suo padre, Fedele, è stato infatti il primo fotoreporter del Corriere della Sera. Sono proprio il padre, la sorella e il cognato Aldo Ballo (il più affermato fotografo del design milanese) a spingerlo a studiare in una grande scuola assecondando il desiderio di diventare un grande fotografo. La scuola migliore in quel momento si trova a Zurigo, la Kunstgewerbeschule, con Johannes Itten come preside – il maestro del colore della Bauhaus – e con alcuni dei più importanti grafici e fotografi del mondo come insegnanti. Qui impara la teoria del colore, la tecnica e la composizione.

Di questo periodo sono gli emozionanti scatti che un Toscani, appena ventunenne, realizza a Don Lorenzo Milani, nella sua scuola di Barbiana.


Oliviero Toscani was born in Milan in 1942 and comes from a family of artists: his father, Fedele, was the first photojournalist for the Corriere della Sera. It was his father, sister, and brother-in-law Aldo Ballo (the most renowned photographer of Milanese design) who encouraged him to study at a prestigious school, in line with his desire to become a great photographer. At that time, the best school was located in Zurich, the Kunstgewerbeschule, with Johannes Itten as its Principal – the master of colour at the Bauhaus – and with some of the world’s most important graphic designers and photographers as teachers. Here, Toscani learned about colour theory, technique, and composition.

From this period are the moving shots that a barely 21-year-old Toscani took of Don Lorenzo Milani at his school in Barbiana.

He graduated in May 1965 and was finally able to begin what would turn out to be a brilliant career. These were the years of the break with the old world, the years of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, of the miniskirt invented by Mary Quant, the years of student protests. Toscani immortalises those moments with his camera and does not miss the salient events that characterise his generation slip away.

He is in the front line at the concert at the Velodromo Vigorelli in Milan to photograph the Beatles on the occasion of their only Italian tour. A Genghis Khan moustache, beat generation ankle boots and obviously long hair, Toscani didn’t take long to establish himself and become one of the most requested photographers by magazines all over the world. In the early 70s he decided to move to New York.

His first big scandal came in 1973: he took a close-up photograph of Donna Jordan’s bottom wearing Jesus jeans and placed the slogan ‘Those who love me, follow me’ on it. The poster went round the world and controversy raged as never before around the advertisement. It was Pier Paolo Pasolini on the Corriere’s front page who admonished all those easy moralisms, talking about how that image placed a new fact, an exception in the fixed canon of the slogan, revealing an unexpected expressive possibility. The name of Oliviero Toscani, and not just his photographs, is now known throughout the world.

The 1970s saw him as the creative force behind the world’s biggest magazines and brands: Vogue, Harpe’s Bazaar, GQ, Elle. And then Missoni, Valentino, Armani, Esprit, Prenatal, Chanel and, above all, Elio Fiorucci, the true innovator of fashion worldwide, with whom Toscani forged a strong partnership, as well as an unbreakable friendship.

In 1982, however, the meeting that changed the world of communication took place: Toscani began to create campaigns for Benetton, giving rise to a series that is now rooted in everyone’s imagination. The trademark “United Colors Of Benetton” was invented, that little green rectangle that would be placed on the photographs that shook the world’s conscience. Toscani overturns the meaning of fashion photographs and with the Benetton campaigns speaks of racism, world hunger, AIDS, religion, war, violence, sex and the death penalty.

In those years, Toscani attracted heavy accusations of exploiting the world’s problems to advertise sweaters. But it was the exact opposite: Toscani used advertising as a means to talk about the world’s problems.

Even after Benetton, his “advertising scandals” arrive punctually: he gives an impetus to the discussion on the regulation of gay unions, creating a large campaign that shows a homosexual couple in affectionate attitudes on a sofa or pushing a stroller.

In 2007, however, he violently shook up the fashion industry presenting a campaign at Milan Fashion Week, a photograph of a completely naked anorexic girl showing the destructive signs of the illness that clothing companies exploit.

In 2018, he returned to direct Fabrica, the communication research centre he founded together with Luciano Benetton almost 30 years earlier. Also on display is a close-up of a man of African ethnicity with two differently coloured eyes, a photograph with which Toscani launched the research centre: David Bowie was so struck by that image that he decided to write the song Black Tie, White Noise.

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