A word should be coined to summarise the intertwining of the professions of architect and photographer. This is the only way to describe Leopoldo Rosati’s career path, now considered, after more than thirty years of activity in the United States, one of the leading Italian interior architects in New York. But also a photographer, in fact.
What had always been a passion, has long since become a tool to complete his projects. “Images have always given me a great emotions” Rosati of Apulian origins tells us, when we meet him at the Soho Photo Gallery, which has hosted three of his photographs. “A click stops the moments, which thus become forever; I carry them with me, I love to collect them, process them, catalog them”.
When he designs the interiors of a house, be it a loft, a villa or an apartment, it is now common practice to include some of his images. “Photography enters architecture in a functional way, not just a decorative one. It is important to me that they play a role. To give just one example, the photo I took at the Flatiron Building became the background of a kitchen wall, where shelves were inserted; or I can think of a table that I made, by printing the photo of over 400 eggs on the flat surface. It is in fact called Eggs Table. To make it I had to buy hundreds of eggs, as many as needed to cover the space “.
Despite the numerous works and the great satisfactions achieved, when we talk about Leopoldo Rosati it is impossible not to remember that six years ago he became famous for being the architect of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s “golden prison”, the townhouse in Tribeca where the former director of the International Monetary Fund was confined to house arrest after being accused of rape. Beyond the terrible news story, the architectural magnificence of the residence remains intact.
“In addition to the headlines, I was thrilled to see the film“ Welcome to New York ”, where the house was filmed in all its details. It was as if my soul was in that film as well. The house was then bought by singer Taylor Swift; obviously I was very pleased that she appreciated my style ”, Rosati tells us. A style that combines innovation in the use of materials with a minimalist but impactful taste. Just like the one of the three photographs that the architect decided to present at the exhibition he was part of, open to the public in August at the Soho Photo House.
The three works, which have been added to those of twenty-eight other artists, are in fact intense, but essential, with few subjects. “They aim at the content, to convey a thought in the viewer. They are the photos represent me more in this moment of my life. The result of evolution, both in aesthetic research and in the formal rigor of the contents “. The first is called “Art & Love”, taken in 2021 inside the Pirelli Hangar Bicocca space in Milan, on the occasion of the installation by Anselm Kiefer.
Two people, side by side, look at a giant canvas. Both have one foot on the sidewalk, are dressed in dark clothes, while in front of them the pastel color prevails. “It summarises a theme dear to me, namely the connection that is created between a work of art and the visitor”. In this photo everything is balanced. There is a very simple central geometry: the couple, the balance pivot of the composition, blends with the tenuous chromatic palette of the canvas and its black background.
“Many visitors – he says – have confirmed that what strikes them is the intensity of such simplicity. And it is true. Few would have thought of immortalising that couple. But photography is just that: an excerpt of reality that not everyone sees ”.
The second photo is called “Discovery”, also taken last year, always inside of the Pirelli Hangar Bicocca space in Milan, during the exhibition of Maurizio Cattelan’s work, “Breath Ghosts Blind”. In the photo the base of the great black tower is visible. On the left there is a guardian; on the right, while walking in the opposite direction, a visitor. “The proximity of the two to the monument is minimal; the moment of the shot coincided with the moment before these two figures disappeared, merging with the black of the tower”, explains Rosati, proud as he looks at the work.
The third photo he wanted to select is more ironic. The title makes it clear “Live Art”. 2018 image, taken at the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum in Thailand. The background work is by Navin Rawanchaikul and is titled “Super (M) art Bangkok Survivor”. Rosati’s shot adds to the artist’s work the presence of a boy, sitting on a bench, scrutinising the composition. “I liked it, because the observer was on the cell phone, just like the two statues. All with their mobile phones, confirming the society we are experiencing .
”Thanks to the exhibitions in which he has participated in recent years, Leopoldo Rosati has published three books: on his minimalist vision of reality, on Asia and Greece. From the latter, he drew heavily to identify the photos that complemented the furnishings of two villas.
. “I don’t shoot a lot in New York, the best images I take are abroad, when I’m traveling. Maybe because I have lived there for too long and I no longer have that feeling of amazement when I walk “.
And in fact, in 2027 it will be forty years that he has lived in this city. Born in Taranto, he arrived in the United States very young. Despite working in a very important studio, he already had in mind the goal of being able to express his art, not just following the orders given by others.
And he succeeded in New York, not even two years after his arrival. After his early days as employee, the audacity to set up on his own as soon as he won the Green Card, the document that allowed him to stay in the US and work legally. “I immediately began to have an intense social life. Any meeting could lead me to a potential client. The first came during a party. He told me that she had just bought a house, we went to see it together and I remember that he was impressed by my ideas. He gave me the job ”. Since that moment he has never stopped.