Oliviero Toscani  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Oliviero Toscani (b. 1942) is an Italian photographer, best-known worldwide for designing controversial advertising campaigns for Italian brand Benetton, from 1982 to 2000. Most of these advertising campaigns were actually institutionals for the brand, always composed of rather controversial photography, usually with only the company logo "United Colors of Benetton" as caption.

One of his most famous campaigns included a photo (by Therese Frare of David Kirby) of a man dying of AIDS, lying in a hospital bed, surrounded by his grieving relatives.

That picture was controversial due to its similarity to a pieta painting. Others include allusions to racism (notably one with three almost identical human hearts, with the words 'white', 'black', and 'yellow' as captions), war, religion and even capital punishment.

In the early nineties Toscani co-founded the magazine Colors (also owned by Benetton) with American graphic designer Tibor Kalman. With the tagline "a magazine about the rest of the world", Colors built on the multiculturalism prevalent at that time and in Benetton's ad campaigns, while remaining editorially independent from Benetton.

In 2005, five years after his resignation from Benetton, he sparked controversy again with his photographs for an advertising campaign for the men's clothing brand 'Ra-Re'. Their portrayals of men participating in homosexual behaviour angered groups such as the catholic fundamentalist parents' association 'MOIGE' who called the pictures 'vulgar'. The campaign came amidst on-going debate in Italy about gay rights.

Oliviero Toscani unsuccessfully stood as a candidate for parliament for the new Rose in the Fist party in the 2006 Italian general election.

In September 2007, a new campaign against anorexia was again controversial due to his shocking photography of an emaciated woman (Isabelle Caro).

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Oliviero Toscani" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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