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"Portrait of Humanity" by Jimmy Nelson

From October 19 to November 5, 2023 at Portrait Milano
Everyday, 8 am – 12 am
free entrance

On the occasion of the great exhibition Humanity dedicated to the master of international photography in the halls of Palazzo Reale, the Piazza del Quadrilatero of Portrait Milano is transformed into one of the world’s biggest open-air museum hall.

From October 19 to November 5, 2023, Portrait Milano welcomes the art of Jimmy Nelson, the celebrated British photographer who has dedicated his career to endangered indigenous people for more than 30 years. Never-before-seen content complements the artist’s retrospective, already exhibiting at Palazzo Reale until January 21, 2024.

Outside the immersive rooms of Palazzo Reale, the images find a second open-air setting at Portrait Milano. The Humanity exhibition is duplicated in a spin-off project entitled “Portrait of Humanity” hosted in the majestic Piazza del Quadrilatero, where 18 portraits tell incredible stories of distant people and faces, of life, humanity and philanthropy, but also the story of the artist himself, who met, knew and observed these populations before he was able to capture their emotions and essence in a shot.

Jimmy Nelson’s works, divided into two series, one of portraits completely integrated into their natural landscapes and the other of close-ups, are displayed on the sides of the square that correspond to the two entrances of Corso Venezia 11 and Via Sant’Andrea 10, which represent the two souls of the city: respectively the dynamic and inclusive one that from the suburbs arrives straight to the centre and the more intimate one of the Quadrilateral.

This is the first time these images have been printed in such important dimensions (6 m high x 2.5 m). The windows within the 16th-century columns of the Loggia on the second floor serve as a frame, in a perfect combination of art and history. Jimmy Nelson’s vision becomes even more evident: shooting from a low perspective implies placing oneself at someone’s feet as a symbol of humility and adoration. This is how the relationship gets established and starts being nurtured through an intimacy that only comes from being human and vulnerable.

But there is another first time: Piazza del Quadrilatero, with its 2,800 sqm, becomes one of the largest open-air museum hall in the world; immense, but intimate at the same time. It is precisely this spirit of openness and hospitality that the Portrait Milano project has cultivated since its inauguration last November 2022, when the historic monument was reopened to the city after more than 30 years. Portrait is always deeply inspired by the human element, a founding value of its philosophy and pillar to its notions, not least the artistic one, thanks to which it maintains its promise to provide the city with a space to nurture and experience.

Jimmy Nelson’s work at Portrait Milano can be admired by all visitors, Milanese and guests of the city, in a magical show both day and night. At 6:30pm every afternoon, the 18 images (of which 7 unpublished) will be backlit and will acquire a new charm, assuming almost three-dimensional rendering.

“Portrait of Humanity” is a spin-off project of the exhibition promoted by the Municipality of Milano – Cultural Department, produced by Palazzo Reale and Skira Editore, in collaboration with the Jimmy Nelson Foundation. It arrives in the heart of the Quadrilatero on the initiative of Portrait Milano, assisted by Beyond The Line (creative consulting and marketing agency). Skira, the oldest brand in international art publishing, has also created the exclusive catalogue, which explains that “the meaning of these images is not a sense of discovery, but a much deeper need for a dialogue. The photographs become vocal because they arise right from words, from Nelson’s obsession with understanding, with tiptoeing in and asking for permission.”

The exhibition at Portrait Milano therefore becomes an introspective dialogue by naturally generating the question “what does a portrait mean to you?“.