Milan photographer Giovanni Gastel died Saturday at age 65 due to COVID-19-related complications.
Gastel was born into an aristocratic family — his mother was Ida Visconti di Modrone, sister of legendary film director Luchino Visconti. In 1975 he started working as a photographer for British auction house Christie’s. In 1981, he entered the world of fashion photography thanks to a meeting with his agent, Carla Ghiglieri.
After publishing a still-life for magazine “Annabella,” a long and successful collaboration with Vogue Italia began in 1982, as well as with other successful titles at that time, including Edimoda, Mondo Uomo and Donna. Inspired by American photographer Irving Penn, from early in his career he pursued an ideal of classical beauty and elegance in his images.
Gastel’s career took off during the boom in the Made in Italy era and the rise of brands such as Versace, Missoni, Krizia, Gianfranco Ferrè and Salvatore Ferragamo.
In the ’90s he expanded his client portfolio by collaborating with some of the most prestigious luxury houses in Paris, including Dior, Nina Ricci and Guerlain.
An exhibition curated by the late art critic Germano Celant at Milan’s Triennale Museum in 1997 revealed Gastel’s most artistic work.
From 2000 on, Gastel, who also wrote poems, dedicated himself more extensively to portraits and 200 of ones he took of high-profile personalities, including Barack Obama, Ettore Sottsass and Roberto Bolle, were collected in an exhibition at the MAXXI Museum in Rome last year.
In 2016, he published an autobiography, titled “An eternal instant. My life,” published by Electa, which he wrote in a month in his house on the Aeolian island of Filicudi.
Considered by many an old-school gentleman for his dandy-like look and impeccable manners, Gastel is survived by his wife, Anna, and six siblings.
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