Alberto di Lenardo, Carlotta di Lenardo: An Attic Full of Trains
At the top of Carlotta di Lenardo grandparents’ house in Italy, there is a room which houses the library. A hidden door amongst the bookshelves opens into a secret attic, a large room dominated by an enormous model railway, which her grandfather built and added to throughout his life.
Significant though it was for her relationship with him, one day during a family lunch he revealed her another of his not very secret passions – his enduring love for photography – and shared with her his archive of more than 8,000 photographs: a body of vernacular work capturing over half a century of life in vivid color.
Unknown in his lifetime, Alberto di Lenardo’s work offers a precursor to some of Italy’s best-loved photographers, from Luigi Ghirri to Guido Guidi, with work made across Italy, the USA, Brasil, Morocco, Greece and beyond. In Carlotta’s scrupulous sequencing, An Attic Full of Trains shows us a joyous cross-section of life in the 20th Century: one of beaches and bars, mountains, road trips, lovers, and friends.
Alberto di Lenardo, who passed away in 2018, was not a pure amateur photographer, he was much (but much) more. One day he decided to show Carlotta what he had portrayed in a lifetime. An endless (and unknown) archive made of almost ten thousand photographs, taken in fifty years.
Not the usual grainy or blurred family images, but real jewels capable of narrating the Italy of the sixties, seventies, and eighties as had rarely been done before. Frames, views, colors: everything was perfect, balanced, harmonious.
Scraps of skies, home-made oleographs, other unimportant objects: grandfather Alberto has immortalized for more than half a century the things that everyone sees but that no one pays attention to, like the streets he walked every day, the places he visited with his family, the objects he had at home.
Just like Ghirri (but also like the Americans William Eggleston or Stephen Shore), its purpose seemed to raise the normality of everyday life to a work of art by removing it from the hasty judgment of those who are not used to observing anything carefully. Photography for Lenardo, as for his great successor, was therefore not a mirror of the world, but a window on the world.
A wider selection of these photographs can be found on the Instagram account grandpa_journey.