Francesco Cito


Francesco Cito, of Italian nationality, was born in Naples on the 5th May 1949 and now lives in Milan. After attending a technical high school, he left his studies unfinished and traveled around Europe, stopping in London in 1972, where he devoted himself to photography but also to experience all kinds of work.

After having worked for a pop-rock music weekly magazine, he became a free-lance photo-journalist in 1975 and started to work for the Sunday Times Magazine, on which he had his first cover, taken from his report "The Mattanza" (ancient way of fishing tuna in Sicily). Afterwards, he also worked for the Observer Magazine.

In 1980, after the Soviet invasion, he was one of the first photoreporters to reach Afghanistan clandestinely, travelling on foot for 1200 kilometers with the different guerrilla groups during his three months stay.

Between the end of 1982 and the beginning of 1983 he was in Naples for a report on the camorra (neapolitan mafia), that was later published all over the world. In 1983 he was also on the Lebanese front, as a correspondent for the weekly magazine Epoca, to report on the split inside the P.L.O. among Arafat supporters and Abu Mussa pro-Syrians. He is the only photo-journalist to have reported on the surrender of Beddawi (refugee camp and P.L.O. stronghold). Until 1989 he went to Lebanon six more times, in order to follow the events.

In 1984 he began to go to Palestine (Israel) to report on the conditions of Palestinians inside the occupied territories (West Bank / Gaza) that caused the uprising of Intifada in December 1987. He still follows the developments in this situation. During this time he was hospitalized three times: two times wounded by Israeli soldiers and once by a

Palestinian brick while on assignement for Stern Magazine on a report on the Israeli settlers (pub. June 1994).

In February 1989, as a correspondent for 'Venerdì' di Repubblica, he went back, clandestinely again, to Afghanistan to report on the Soviet Army retreat.

In august 1990, for 'Venerdì' di Repubblica again, he was among the first photographers to report the American landing in Saudi Arabia after the invasion of Kuwait. He went back to the Gulf area during the war against Iraq, till the liberation of Kuwait.

In Italy, he often follows mafia cases in the southern regions, but also events such as the Palio in Siena and other important aspects of our society.

In 1995 the World Press Photo Contest awarded him the 3rd prize for the report: "Neapolitan Weddings".

In 1996 the World Press Photo Contest awarded him the 1st prize for the report: "Siena, the Palio".

In 1997 the Istituto Abruzzese for Contemporary Italian History awarded him the City of Atri prize for peace and freedom for his commitment to follow the Palestinian struggle.

In 2004 Prize Città di Trieste per il reportage

In 2005 Prize Rodolfo Pucci "La Fibula d'oro" Castelnuovo Garfagnana (LU)

In 2005 Prize Werner Bischof " The silver flute" Avellino

In 2006 Appointed Master of the Photographia Italiana by FIAF. Rovereto (TR)

In 2006 Prize winner Bariphotocamera, Bari Italy

In 2009 Prize St. Petersburg, Russia

In 2009 awarded the prize Antonio Russo for war photography Main magazine publications: Epoca; 'Venerdì' di Repubblica; 'Sette' del Corriere della Sera; Sunday Times Mag.; Observer Mag.; Stern; Bunte; Zeit Mag.; Figaro Mag.; Life; Paris Match; L'Express Mag.; etc.



"Iconoclastia" Casa Vestita, Grottaglie (TA) 2014

"Coma" Palazzo Civico, Sala della Ragione, Asolo 2013

"Afghanistan" Citerna Fotografia, Citerna 2013

"Coma" Citerna Fotografia, Citerna 2013

"Coma" Villa Pignatelli, Napoli 2012

"Coma" Vite Sospese, Potenza Picena 2012

"Il Palio" Photò 19, Brescia 2012

"Effeta" Bethlehem, Bergamo Opera Diocesana 2011

Il Muro d'Israele, Castello Ducale, Corigliano Calabro 2011

In Viaggio, Palazzo Quadrio Curzio, Tirana 2011

L'Isola al di la dal mare, Torre Viscontea, Lecco 2010

Cartoline napoletane, Medphotofestival, Catania 2010

Francesco Cito "photographer." Wavephotogallery, Brescia 2010

Da culla alla morte, Central Hall Manegge, San Pietroburgo 2009

Tutto CITO, Galeria Zoom, Paraty em foco. Paraty, Brasile 2008

Oltre lo sguardo, Palazzo del comune, Altidona, Fermo  2008

Cartoline napoletane, Altidona Fermo  2008 

Afghanistan, Foiano della Chiana 2008

Vedi Napoli e...... La Cancellata, Staffolo, Ancona 2008

Palestina, Galleria ACTA International, Roma 2008

Matrimoni Napoletani, Scuderie Medicee, Seravezza, Lucca

Sulla Terra chiamata Palestina, Centro BCC, Ghedi - Brescia 2008

Barche, pescatori e pesci, FNAC Torino 2008

Sulla Terra chiamata Palestina, Castello di Montecchio, Reggio Emilia 2008

Isola Sakhalin-Russia, Museo Nazionale, Yuzno Sakhalinsky 2008

Frammenti di Guerra, Centro Civico, Palau 2007

Una Calda Estate a Corigliano, Castello ducale, Corigliano Calabro 2007

Barche, pescatori e pesci, FNAC Napoli 2007

Frammenti di Guerra, Ist. Italiano Studi Filosofici, Napoli 2007

Barche, pescatori e pesci,  Sala Murat, Bari 2006

Sulla terra chiamata Palestina, Palazzo Novellucci, Prato 2006

Sulla terra chiamata Palestina, Comprensorio del Gasometro, Roma 2006

Palestina, Saronno 2006

L'isola al di la dal mare, Palazzo Crepadona, Belluno 2006

Sulla Terra Chiamata Palestina, Conegliano Veneto 2006

Frammenti di guerra, Palazzo della Provincia, Avellino 2005

Palestina, Centro le Zitelle, La Giudecca, Venezia 2005

Palestina, Castelnuovo Garfagnana (Lucca) 2005

Immagini come parole, Galleria Bel Vedere, Milano 2005

Il Palio, Chiesina dell’Ospedale, Meldola 2005 

Frammenti di guerra, Palazzo Pubblico, Borgo Valsugana 2004

Il Palio, Fincantieri-Wärtsilä BFI,  Trieste 2004

Matrimoni Napoletani, Castello, Massa Marittima 2004

L'isola al di la del mare,  Castello di San Michele, Cagliari 2004

Sardegna,  Book-messe, Francoforte 2004

Palestina 1987-2002,  Sala Duce Palazzo Ducale, Sassari 2003

Frammenti di guerra, Galleria Cascina Grande, Rozzano (MI) 2003

Occhi della guerra,  Stazione marittima, Trieste 2003

Piazza del Campo,  Magazzini del Sale-Palazzo Pubblico, Siena 2003

Matrimoni Napoletani,  Central Hall Manegge, San Pietroburgo 2003

L’isola al di là del mare,  Masedu-Museo Arte Contemporanea, Sassari 2003

Matrimoni napoletani,  Palazzo Frisacco, Tolmezzo 2002      

Piazze d’Italia,  Berlino 2002

Palestina 1987-1997,  Exmà, Cagliari 2002

The Palio,  Studio Gallery, London 2002

Palestina,  Galleria Archivio Fotografico Toscano, Prato 2000

Gli occhi della guerra,  Scavi Scaligeri, Verona 2000

Afghanistan,  Galleria Cascina Grande, Rozzano (Mi) 1999

Matrimoni napoletani,  Chiesina dell’Ospedale, Meldola 1999

Matrimoni napoletani,  Fortezza da Basso, Firenze 1998

Occhi che raccontano,  Galleria San Fedele, Milano 1997

Matrimoni napoletani,  Galleria Franca Speranza, Milano 1997

Immagini dal 1980 al 1996,  Galleria Cascina Grande, Rozzano (Mi) 1996

Palestina,  Chiesina dell’Ospedale, Meldola 1996

Palestina anno zero,  Galleria Il Diaframma, Milano 1994

Gulfwar Fotogiornalismo oggi,  Palazzo Galasso, Trento 1993

Palestina,  World Council of Professional Photographers 1988/89

Palestina: il dramma di due popoli,  Galleria IF, Milano 1989

Naples: Camorra,  Festival de la photo, Perpignan (France) 1989

Israele:  I fotografi del Venerdì di Repubblica, Galleria Il Diaframma, Milano 1988

Palio,  Palazzo Pubblico, Siena 1988

Mostra collettiva,  EXPO Bari, 1987

Napoli ieri oggi domani,  Sicof , Milano 1987

Naples,  Istituto italiano di Cultura,  Rio de Janeiro (Brasil) 1987

Chi troppo, chi niente,  Palazzo Civico, Genova 1986

Il fotoreportage,  Palazzo Civico, Teolo (PD) 1986

Naples,  Universitad Popular - Casa de Cultura Puebla, Mexico 1986

Mattanza,  Palazzo Dugnani, Milano 1983

Afganistan,  Palazzo Lanfranchi, Pisa 1983

Afganistan,  Galleria Il Diaframma, Milano 1982





Text written by Carlo Verdelli:

"According to Ferdinando Scianna, Francesco Cito is one of the best Italian photojournalists. Although it may seem blasphemous or paradoxical I cut out five letters to the solemn praise: Francesco Cito is one of the best Italian journalists. I removed "photo", just five letters, and try to explain the reason for this apparent provocation. Francesco Cito, born in Naples, May 5, 1949, 65 years old, long hair, thin beard and mustache that pinches often with the fingers, so often that it has become a tic, is a great photographer, and with a long, honorable career which rightly this exhibition pays tribute to, is like saying that Maradona was a football ace or Paolo Sorrentino an Oscar film director (I quote two of you so much for "Neapolitan"). We know that Cito is a photographer, we are witness to 40 years of work, of shots, of published images everywhere in Italy, but also elsewhere: Sunday Times Magazine, Observer, Stern, Figaro, Paris Match, Life. There are reports that made him famous, award-winning like, unforgettable, the neapolitan marriage or that of the madness and crazy crowd at the Palio di Siena, which has earned him the first place at the World Press Photo 1996 . Or, the long work on smugglers Neapolitans, and long mean months of uninterrupted attendance in the area of Saint Lucia, together with the police raids, travels on boats of pirates of the sea: this has a special value for Cito, it was his debut in the world of the picture that counts and tells, published in the Sunday Times Magazine, the beginning of his adventure with a bottle of champagne. I do not add to the list the patient and dangerous work on the Camorra: Cito being "also" a denounces photographer,  it goes without saying that in his and our album there is, and there is also that this report has made history. Of course, in the "Cito's way", there are trips where the earth is burning, and you would more quickly say where he is not gone. Imagine a map of war and the pain from the eighties onwards (from Afghanistan to Lebanon, to the territories of Palestine, from Kosovo to Bosnia to Arabia post invasion of Kuwait, from Beirut to Sarajevo, from the trenches to the extreme city equally extreme) imagine the map and you will find him, you will always find him, a dot with a kind of green military jacket, moving among the rubble, deads and survivors with the invisibility of an angel. "Invisibility of an angel" may seem a rhetorical expression and perhaps improper for a person who does not have much in the physical traits of the angelic. Yet it is a definition that has its own truth. Net of technical and aesthetic philosophy, the work of Cito moves on three coordinates: fatigue, closeness, respect. To tell a story, whatever it is, you have to get into it. And to get into it, do not just knock a door. You have to have the patience to go around, find the right key that seldom is the first you're going to get around, tire your legs and eyes and head in fury to move, see, observe, try to understand. This is the fatigue. Then you have to go in, as much as possible to shorten the distances, take the risks involved, in risk situations, or take the necessary countermeasures, in cases (let's call them) with different humanity, not to invade with your presence the spirit of the scene . Here the closeness. And then there's the respect, which is a category that is not learned or that imposes itself through a discipline or technique. The respect you've got it in and cultivate it, maybe you improve it growing, but you can not buy. Any photo made by Francesco Cito, even the most terrible and tragic, is marked by respect, whatever the object placed in the viewfinder. Even in its image perhaps more extreme, a man with the gun slung exhibiting the severed head of an enemy in Afghanistan, there is still all the horror of bloodshed but, together, not even a hint of complacency or of performance indecent. Indecent is war, not the photo that stops a splint, as inhumane. Not surprisingly, in one of his not very frequent interviews, Francesco Cito explains the compass needle that moves, that has moved since, in his early twenties, he bought his first Nikon F2 and took his first steps in London and remained with odd jobs to Harrod's, or in nightclubs. The phrase that explains all or most of the work of Cito says: "I'm mostly attracted by man in all its forms, I hardly have photographs where there isn't the presence of man. The landscape end in itself, the so-called still life, rather than the object itself, I catch up at some point, unless in the context there is a man or still a living presence. I care that there is life, pulse, movement. "Movement, pulse, life: a summary of the years of Epoca, which was the only authentic Italian weekly magazine to give dignity to photography, understood not as a side dish or furnishing of a paper but as an integral part of a story, sometimes as a narrative self-sufficient, with the text right to hold up the tail of the talking pictures. That's where I met Francesco Cito. He was a freelance, he always has been, allergic to employment: an absolutely reliable professionist (in the sense that he would never come back without having brought home the service for which he left) but just as biologically unfit to be framed in something, even if it were an editorial loved like that. Loved from the very young age, when Francesco Cito was passionate about the adventures of Walter Bonatti phenomenal published by Epoca. (of course, photos and text: in that order). It was a school, that of Epoca. And it was also a team, not so much of journalists but photographers. The only italian newspaper to have photographers in staff, regularly employed, an unbeatable patrol: Mauro Galligani, Giorgio Lotti, Nino Leto (when I was there), and then Mario De Biasi, Sergio Del Grande, Walter Mori, Vittoriano Rastelli. The italian "Life" became also for Cito the best harbor dock where to start and come back. On those pages he has published many of the photographs found in books of collections dedicated to him or where he worked. That newspaper, Epoca, as you know, does not exist anymore, it died long before the publishing crisis and laziness of publishers will certify the actual end, in 1997, to 47 years of life. Died young, died in the spirit before the newsstands, plagued by changes in some cases brainy which had the greatest guilt of betraying the original DNA. Every newspaper, like every human being, grows, evolves, changes. But if it betrays its roots, its DNA is bound to pay it: because the nature rebels and readers do not understand it anymore. This is not the venue nor the time to think about the state of publishing nor crying tears useless on what has been and could still be. (better yet: it might still be). Amen, point and head. A culture has changed, from the Gutenberg galaxy we moved to Zuckerberg galaxy. Which means many things on which I will not bore you, except one: the change of a civilization does not erase the quality produced in the previous one. Simply it carries it. And not as a witness or a reminder of how we were, not as a gift, but as fertile and fruitful leaven to continue to tell the world with a gaze able to grasp the new, and otherwise incomprehensible dimensions. I think Francesco Cito is a good example of a person who has dedicated his life to tell the world. And to tell worlds that change. His signature style is clean, the essentiality of the image, the lack of frills or disorders. And behind this apparent linearity, behind the lack of special effects, more or less, there is an emotional power that comes along even in a wedding scene. There is something more modern, more contemporary in this choice? If you look at the window which opens the largest search engine universe, Google, you will realize that essentiality is the true figure that counts in the revolutionary time we are living: a blank page, a rectangle to type in anything, and write. Stop. But the algorithm hidden which moves and directs your research is one of the most complex and efficient that the human mind has conceived. A huge engine behind a mere facade. The only difference is that in Google there is no love or sentiment. In the small-big Cito universe, yes. Stand a few minutes in front of one of his images, your heart will start to beat differently, and blood to make bubbles. It took him patience to build those visions with the engine of passion hidden inside, behind; put a little patience you too to watch and let the hidden power will touch you, from the eye to the soul. Among the many luxuries that surely he denied himself in life, Cito granted himself one: the freedom to choose. For example, the black and white instead of color. He explains: "It may seem strange, but at the beginning I photographed in color. Then I realized that the color distorts a little, in the sense that the viewer ends up being attracted by the more general context  rather than the subject. In general, the black and white is more difficult, do not allow shortcuts, pretend that you create a building with no tricks or deception, does not leave you room to fix it up. Francesco Cito is one that never fixed it up. And his great merit, his trademark but also, and I say with affection, the thin and unstable thread he has chosen to walk a hundred meters high, suspended between the skyscrapers of life. Had he been a little more 'cunning', he could have adapted a bit more to the market and to the merchants,  he would now enjoy years, economically, more serene. But everyone is what it is and makes no use of good advices. What is certain is that Francesco Cito helped the Italian journalism to be better. For this, at first, I took off those five letters: journalist instead of photo-journalist. I think the difference between using the verbal and the visual is in the ability of those who tell, not in the middle they use. If I had to choose, among a thousand, a picture of him hanging in my room more secret, I would take the one entitled "The bride and her sister", taken in Naples in 1994, twenty years ago. Alone itself  is worth by intensity and truth, a bestseller of Saviano on South or a study of Alberoni, Mancuso or Recalcati on mysterious mechanisms of love. The written word can resign. " Carlo Verdelli.


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