Fabrizio La Torre

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Fabrizio La Torre
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Born(1921-01-11)January 11, 1921
Rome, Italy
DiedJanuary 11, 2014(2014-01-11) (aged 92)
Brussels, Belgium
Alma materLivorno Naval Academy
  • Ferdinando La Torre (father)
  • Gabriella (mother)
RelativesNicoletta (sister)

Fabrizio La Torre, who was born in Rome (Italy) on 11 January 1921 and died in Brussels (Belgium) on 27 August 2014, was an Italian photographer active for a 15 year period in the 1950s–1960s and whose neorealistic and intimistic works are typical of cinema and photography of that time in Italy.

Early life and family background

Though Fabrizio La Torre was born in Rome in 1921, he spent the first years of his life in northern Italy, first in Milan and then in the “Villa del Gromo” not far from Bergamo.

His father Ferdinando La Torre was a cavalry officer speaking six languages fluently. Lover of the fine arts, he had sculpture, painting and writing for leisure. He published many works including a study on Pope Alexander VI Borgia. His mother Gabriella, born from an Italian aristocratic family, spent her time painting porcelain in the style of the artisans of 18th century and ended up as a stylist for the French Maison Hermès. His sister Nicoletta ended up producing coral and seashell sculptures which would be found on sale in the boutiques of Pierre Cardin.

He was raised in traditional Italian aristocratic fashion, where being an artist is not considered as a job or potential career but only as a passion or hobby. In 1941, he joined the Livorno Naval Academy, becoming a naval officer cadet. It was wartime and his first time outside the family “cocoon”, his first steps as an adult: he applied for and received permission from the Admiralty to bring his camera along on-board ship. He would be demobbed in December 1945, having taken part in the liberation of Venice.

Rediscovering his works

Discovery of the photography

La Torre said that “his parents gave him his first camera, a Bakelite body with non-adjustable lens and focus which produced rather strange half format 18x24 millimeter negatives. It was with it that he took his first photos.” Since then, he tried to take pictures at any occasion especially during the different trips he made during his life, “trying to capture the daily life” of the people he encountered.


La Torre justified his "frenzy of travel" as a pretext to flee from the paternal model and the resumption of management of a family estate:

My university years, the naval academy, the war as an officer on a speedboat, liberation and so many other essential moments in the life of a young man of 22 or 23 years old, all this made me to understand that there were other worlds to discover than the one, very happy and privileged, in which I was born. I therefore traveled a lot. In space and in time.

From December 1946 and August 1948 La Torre stayed in South America where he travelled in the hope of finding employment in the merchant navy.

In September 1955, he went for a long trip in North America, travelling the length and breadth of the USA and Canada capturing the key cities and snowy landscapes.

Having come to Bangkok to work in a newly established company, Italthai Industrial, La Torre lived in Thailand from 1956 to 1961. For him it was an opportunity to discover Thailand and part of Asia at a time when mass tourism did not yet exist.

In October 1964, he obtained a management position in Japan Airlines, which would lead him to travel 32 times to this country until his retirement in 1981.

He retired to the Bordighera on the Italian Riviera near Sanremo and taught courses in Art History at the “Seniors University”.

His work and legacy

Since the early 1950s and until the late 1960s, La Torre produced less than 10 thousand photos worldwide. After this period, he gave up photography, gave away or sold his cameras, closed his archives and put them away in boxes where they would remain out of sight for 40 years.

In 2009 he agreed to re-open his archives for examination and study and allowed the restoration of a number of negatives. Gradually a first exhibition was prepared, focussing on Rome in the 1950s and ‘60s, “La Vera vita”. By this time he was 90 years old and in failing health. He realised that this was not a time to hold back and decided to cooperate fully in the restoration of his works. He moved to Brussels, in order to benefit from the availability of the technicians and experts which he would need.

In 2014, La Torre worked every day on preparations for his Retrospective in Monaco. He realised that this was his last chance to display his works as he thought best. Two weeks before the official inauguration, he died. His ashes would be placed in the little cemetery of Cap d’Ail next door to Monaco where his parents and his sister were already at rest.


La Torre used Rolleiflex 6x6 cameras but did most of his work with a camera bought in Germany in 1948, the Kine Exakta 35mm with Zeiss lens produced in that country since 1936 and of which he managed to obtain one of the last units available after the war.

Technique and style

La Torre never tried to only show the beautiful for fear of "making postcard". For him, "there is only the introduction of the human element that protects from looking like a postcard. This is why my naked landscapes are so rare."

He considered himself "a lonely walker" whose street is his playground. “When I photographed, I tried to be as discreet as possible, not to disturb those I wanted to capture in their daily lives, not to be noticed.”

However, he never considered himself a portrait painter, his photos are snapshots, "When I managed to capture a few seconds of truth, believe me, it was chance. Nothing else."

Far from the paparazzi, La Torre developed his own style, working alone, ignoring the surprise and amused comments of Roman photographers obsessed with the Via Veneto and its starlets. They did have in common the laboratory to which they took their films, that of the Nannini Brothers in the city centre, two experts in high contrast images and probably the inventors of the concept of "stolen photos", out of focus and slightly grainy to give the impression of privacy revealed.


  • 2010, (January-February), Paris, Italian Cultural Institute, "Roma, La Vera Vita"[1]
  • Summer 2011, (June-September), Brussels, Musée d’Ixelles, « Roma 1950, La Vera Vita ».
  • 2014, (September-October), Monaco, Retrospective "Le Monde des Années 1950"[2][3], with the support of the Government of the Principality.
  • November 2014, Paris, "Promenade Romaine", Galerie Marie-Laure de L’Ecotais[4], Rue de Seine.
  • November 2018-January 2019, Bangkok, "Bangkok That Was", Serindia Gallery, with the support of the Italian and Belgian Embassies in Thaïland[5][6]


  • -"Ecco i Meo della Thailandia"[1], Fototesto di Fabrizio La Torre, (sopratitolo "lungo la via dell'opio"), in Le Vie del Mondo, magazine mensuel du Touring Club italien, Milan 1966, pages 479 à 484 .
  • - "La Roma di Pietro", Capitolium - Rivista di Roma, Rome June 1968, collective photo catalogue in collaboration with the "Circolo fotografico Trevi".
  • - "Roma, 1950-1960, La vera vita", Fabrizio La Torre, Silvana Editoriale, Milan, January 2010, https://www.decitre.fr/livres/rome-1950-1960-9788836616251.html
  • - "Le Monde des années 50"[2][3], Fabrizio La Torre, Brussels Art Edition, Bruxelles, August 2014, ISBN 978-2-9601547-0-2
  • - "Bangkok That Was", Fabrizio La Torre, Serindia Publications, Chicago and Brussels Art Edition, Belgium, November 2018, ISBN 978-1-932476-91-0

Mentions in the press

In the media



  1. "Fabrizio La Torre : Rome 1950 - 1960. La vera vita". iicparigi.esteri.it (in italiano). Retrieved 2019-10-26.
  2. "Fabrizio La Torre: Il mondo negli anni '50". www.osservatoriodigitale.it. Retrieved 2019-10-26.
  3. "Exposition Fabrizio La Torre". Les actualites de la Principaute de Monaco (in français). Retrieved 2019-10-26.
  4. "Exposition de "Rome 1950-1960 " par Fabrizio La Torre à la galerie au fond de la cour | Actuphoto". actuphoto.com. Retrieved 2019-10-26.
  5. "Opening of BANGKOK THAT WAS: Photographs 1956-1961 by Fabrizio La Torre". Beluthai.org. Retrieved 2019-10-26.
  6. Boon, Auke. "DE PRACHTIGE FOTO'S VAN FABRIZIO LA TORRE OVER HET AUTHENTIEKE THAILAND ZIJN EEN GENOT OM TE BEKIJKEN | Olleke Bolleke in Thailand" (in Nederlands). Retrieved 2019-10-26.

External link

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