How photography duo Coppi Barbieri mastered the art of the still life

How photography duo Coppi Barbieri mastered the art of the still life

A rich new monograph traces Lucilla Barbieri and Fabrizio Coppi’s formative creative years in the 1990s

Lucilla Barbieri and Fabrizio Coppi and first met in Milan at design school in the late 1980s, forming an alchemical partnership in work and in life. The husband and wife duo, now based in London, have since joined ranks with the most in demand commercial photographers working today. From interiors to jewellery, beauty, and accessories, the longtime Wallpaper* contributors have earned plaudits for their alluring approach to advertising, amassing a client list that includes Apple, Chanel, Cartier, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton.

Before their commercial career took off, Coppi Barbieri were honing their craft with early experiments of photographs of flowers submerged in water, household objects like plastic bottles and glassware, and backlit dresses animated by fans. Now, a monograph published by Damiani traces these formative creative years, from 1992-1997, and how they mastered the art of the still life from their Milan home and photography studio.

Although the pair have now adopted digital cameras to keep up with the mercurial pace of commercial commissions, Coppi Barbieri first sharpened their photographic skills on a large-format Sinar camera. The process was inherently slow, calm, and intimate: shooting 5x7 inch transparency film allowed them an all-important control over colours, while also providing immediate results that did not need to be printed.  They would develop sheets of film – sometimes sending one at a time – at nearby lab, before making any adjustments to the set-up of the image.

Their ethereal images share an affinity with the paintings of Giorgio Morandi and Domenico Gnoli, who they’ve named among their influences. Coppi Barbieri, too, looked to fashion photographers for inspiration, from Paolo Roversi (who has penned the foreword of the pair’s new monograph) to Sarah Moon and Javier Vallhonrat. Ultimately, their vision feels distinctly their own. Whether they’re bringing British pop art pioneer Patrick Caulfield’s paintings to life, or taking a Technicolor tumble into cocktail hour, the duo have an unparalleled knack for elevating the ordinary into the extraordinary. §

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