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Matinee: Renato D'Agostin's '7439' Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

7 April 2018

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 144th in our series of Saturday matinees today: Renato D'Agostin's '7439.'

Renato D'Agostin is a photographer, as he says by way of introduction, who was born near Venice, took up photography in 2001 and moved to New York where he became an assistant to Ralph Gibson before striking out on his own with a studio in Brooklyn.

His work is included in the collections of the Library of Congress, the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., the International Center of Photography in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, the Center for Creative Photography in Arizona and the Maison Europeenne de la Photographie in Paris among others.

This video touches on his 2016 book 7439, which is the number of miles he motorcycled across the U.S. from New York to California. His left forearm has a tattoo of the journey he took. The book has the images he captured along the way.

We see him in the studio, making a print, as he talks about his photography. The image, he says, isn't finished when you take the photo. It keeps living with you, he says. It stays with you forever.

He makes a print that's in the book and also framed on his wall while the video shows us a few selections from the book.

The images themselves are quite grainy and evoke familiar images by other photographers. But that's the tradition, D'Agostin points out. Taking the trip across county is part of the American tradition of photography, he says. It helps you appreciate the vastness of the continent, the marvels beyond imagination of places like the Grand Canyon, the turbulence of the storms in New Mexico.

He makes a prototype of a possible book before making the final prints in the darkroom. That becomes a meditation on the image. Why he took it. What it means to him.

In a 2015 interview with Anton Shebetko, D'Agostin reflected on his apprenticeship with Gibson, his trip across country and his preference for film.

At the end, he says, "How to become a good photographer? When I'll become one, I'll tell you."

And it seems he has.

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