“There are people who, when they look at a picture, they get angry at it. But they should get angry at themselves for not having the courage to look into the problem.” (Oliviero Toscani)
The arresting images of Oliviero Toscani catapulted a little-known clothing brand to international status and transformed the role of advertising in modern times. As the responsible for Benetton’s infamous campaigns throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Toscani’s fusion of social commentary and commerce prompted the world to re-consider the power and purpose of advertising.
Never far from controversy, the acclaimed photographer shot to notoriety with his use of shock images for a series of campaigns that featured subjects ranging from dying AIDS patients to death row inmates. Often contentious, Toscani’s pioneering work has faced government bans and sparked public protests – something that doesn’t seem to put off the seemingly risk-averse Italian.
“There isn’t such a thing as a shocking picture,” Toscani told CNN in early 2010, “there is shocking reality that is being reproduced through photography to the people who aren’t there. I don’t like to waste my time, I’m looking for something that’s new to gain, to live for, and to believe in.”