The Beautiful Cliché

The lens of a native captures Venice in poetic new form

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Italian photographer Renato D’Agostin creates haunting black-and-white portraits that capture a city’s essence in serenely abstract form. The budding lensman began shooting these fragmented narratives in 2001, and has since published two books, “Metropolis” and “Tokyo Untitled,” before taking his approach back to his home town of Venice, the subject of his latest series, “The Beautiful Cliché.”

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D’Agostin’s images are emotional without seeming preciously nostalgic and his languid style for “The Beautiful Cliché” draws the viewer in without inciting a longing for a holiday—the tack many photographers take when documenting a city as romantically charged and picturesque as Venice. Instead, D’Agostin shows its raw beauty through distinct snippets of daily life and dissected architecture, creating a scene that feels both familiar and vaguely mysterious.


Using Kodak TRI-X400 film, D’Agostin shot on a Leica M6 and a Nikon F100 to create the set of poetically granular images. Whether capturing one of the city’s quintessential pigeons, moorings in the lagoon or the wake of a boat, the original perspective and artistic production turn Venice into uncharted land.


“A Beautiful Cliché” is both a large-scale book and upcoming exhibition, opening tomorrow at The Chinese Porcelain Company in NYC and running through 15 December 2011. Produced by Venetian Heritage, the book sells for $60 or as a limited edition, which includes an 8×10-inch silver gelatin print for $500. Purchasing information can be found on D’Agostin’s website.

See more images in the slideshow.