Introduction by Monica Trigona

The very first photographic portraits were realized around the mid-XIXth Century. Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, whose stage name was Nadar, used to photograph the famous figures of his time, such as politician-writer Pierre Clément Eugène Pelletan, composer Gioacchino Rossini, journalist Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier, writer Alexandre Dumas (father).
Étienne Carjat, coeval journalist and draftsman, was equally significant, immortalizing, among others, Arthur Rimbaud when he was very young, but also Charles Baudelaire, painter Léon Barillot, composer George Bizet etc.
The photographic image only seemed a translation of the pictorial depiction on photosensitive paper.
The pose was the same, often with the bust in a three-quarter view, and the expression was aware of the final purpose, the enduring of one's own image (and of one's political, cultural and social role); even the delicate tonal effects conferred by the artist-photographer made one think of highly realistic paintings.
The first snapshots of female nudes date back to the same period, with their stereotyped poses that somehow harked back to neoclassical painting. Male bodies were also involved in the new art form, as it is evident from the work of German photograph Wilhelm von Gloeden who worked in Taormina at the turn of the XIX Century.
His nude young boys were renowned for their constant drawing on the stereotypes from ancient Greece, along with their diversely twinkly poses.
In the XXth Century, the century of the avant-garde movements, eternalizing the body in several guises became an established routine, as it is evident in many artists, ranging from Man Ray and Rafael Navarro (to quote only two popular virtuosos of that artistic means), up to Robert Mapplethorpe, just to mention the strictly photographic realm.
The uncovered body has been and still is a "topic of investigation" for the camera, in all of its forms and shades, also thanks to the development of new techniques: It is so in its plastic-sculptoral essence, in a more sensual and erotic connotation, in its recalling abstract geometries, in its heightened idea of perfection, in its incessant process of evolution and of deterioration etc.
Beside using the photographic portrait for social or documentary purposes, and concerning various representations of the naked human physicalness, it is undeniable that the snapshot has allowed to visualize men and women in a new way, to provide a fresh image of them, sometimes an extremely analytical and detailed one, some other times shocking and provoking, or even closely approaching poetry, with effects of pure lyricism.
Nowadays, different forms of "pictorialism" coexist with new approaches and specific forms of hybridation of different means: we can think, for instance, of the classical style of the portraits by Irvin Penn, and of the original approach of the self-portraits by Cindy Sherman, in which she ironically identifies with different roles, so as to stimulate in the spectator imaginative visualizations of several stories.
Creative freedom and the diffusion of the photographic "product" is immense and it is equally favored both by its technology and by its reproducibility.
Therefore, it seems that all human existence, its visible form, could be made explicit, eternal, but also specifically created to satisfy the need of those visual tales that our society craves for. So, what is left to be made overt? One is inclined to wonder. One answer could be: the simplicity that is implied in life itself and in its main characters as captured in their simple gestures, in their usual expressions and also in their fortuitous movements.

It is then the ability of the director behind the camera that must figure out – with dexterity and sometimes even with some kind of audacity – those moments of spontaneous and sudden communication, in order to perpetuate them in time and to remind of their existence.
The diptychs titled "Nudes" by Claudio Cravero are a subtle reflection on what happens, more or less unconsciously, on the faces of some people when they are captured in situations that drastically change from one snapshot to another.
People from different backgrounds, social classes, or sex have agreed to be immortalized first with their own clothes on, and then completely naked.
The central figure, a protagonist on a neutral background, doesn't bring anything but himself/herself to the scene. His or her clothes, when present, are not visible, since the visible space ends just at the level of their necks.
These full close-ups would seem two consecutive snapshots. And yet, if one closely observes the two images that compose each work, one can feel that something has provoked an emotional shock, more or less intense, more or less aware. Both men and women look directly into the camera, allowing the spectators to scrutinize and to metaphorically denude them. The viewers ignore that they are actually in the nude in one of the photos that compose the double portraits.
They don't know how vulnerable and how violable they might have felt. As a matter of fact, the rigorous composition of each scene can only assure about the seemingly "normal" circumstance that is the setting of each shot.
The light that illuminates the faces is natural and it sometimes determines chiaroscuro effect that do not appear in the least unnatural, being so truthful, while the objective colors of the complexion and of the background confer a realistic and concrete effect. Only tiny smirks, fleeing looks, soft movements, the expressions that become more or less convinced, reveal that the representation has gone beyond the aesthetics of the image and it has weaseled its way into a different hemisphere, a more personal one, concerning people's psyche.
These faces, so familiar and spontaneous, devoid of makeup or digital manipulation – in other words, more people than characters – are disarming for the immediate contact they create with those who contemplate them.
Their wide smiles, their ability to control themselves, motivated maybe by the desire to take the challenge despite the embarrassment due to the nudity before the photographer, but also their different degrees of surrendering to emotionality (since we are basically made up of feelings and emotions), are all characteristics that a camera alone could not seize.
The artist, his medium and his subject become an indissoluble trio, whose actions and reactions produce the final result, the outcome of a synergistic effort. Cravero does not overreach himself, he does not reveal any clue but he just searches for the characteristic gesturing of the face to immortalize.
He wants to get very close to the truth of the persons and he continuously seems to question on the meaning of appearances, of life, real or imagined, and of the frailty that lingers in every certainty. He manages to do so through such a simple language, aesthetic, immediately comprehensible, which leaves even the most unprejudiced spectators with so many doubts in their minds.
Art, as Joseph Beuys conceived it, reveals then its function as an instrument for knowledge, of aperture and disclosure, able to open up ways and to suggest routes that would be otherwise unknown.