The Pirelli calendar and its history reach Berlin

Berlin , 6 April 2006 An exhibition featuring the worlds most famous calendar will be inaugurated at the Berlinische Gallerie in the presence of major international political and diplomatic figures and illustrious representatives of the worlds of culture and show business.

Following the success enjoyed in New York and Moscow, the style and appeal of The Cal is set to conquer the German capital with Pirelli presenting the most intimate side of its prestigious calendar for the first time in its 40-year history. Secrets and backstage details, curiosities and anecdotes, all that which admirers of the The Cal throughout the world have always longed to know but which has never before been revealed or described has now been collected in an exclusive, prestigious volume, the Pirelli Calendar Backstage Book, to be presented in Berlin.

The exhibition, open to the public from Friday the 7th of April through to the 18th of June 2006, is composed of 120 photos reviewing the most significant chapters in the history of The Cal. The story began in 1964 with the edition created by the Beatles photographer Robert Freeman and has developed for over 40 years through to the present day and the magnificent shots by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott for the 2006 edition.
A collection of images that over the years have fuelled the Pirelli Calendar legend, making of it a cultural phenomenon and historical testimony to the evolution of taste, fashion and contemporary society. The Cal 2006, which for the occasion will be presented to the German public, makes 33 editions of the calendar created by 27 photographers (seven coming back for a second go), including three women (Sarah Moon from France in 1972, and the Americans Joyce Tennyson and Annie Leibovitz in 1989 and 2000 respectively).
However, the dominant aspect of The Cals Berlin exhibition is the debut presentation of the previously unpublished photos from the Pirelli Calendar Backstage Book. 90 previously unpublished shots reproduced on enormous cubes and exhibited to the public for the first time.

With the exhibition at the Berlinische Gallerie in Berlin, the Pirelli Calendars anthological exhibition now in its 11th edition returns to the international scene after the successful shows in Tokyo in 2001 and Moscow in 2005. The exhibition debuted in 1997 at Palazzo Grassi in Venice, before moving on to Milan (Palazzo Reale), Genoa (Palazzo Ducale), Monte Carlo (Casin), Brussels (Muses Royaux dArt e dHistorie), Paris (Carosel du Louvre), Buenos Aires (Palace de Glace) and Sao Paulo in Brazil (MASP).

The next stop will be the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

The Pirelli Calendar Backstage Book 1964-2006

The Pirelli Calendar Backstage Book coordinated by Costantino Ruspoli together with art director Stefano Corvi sets out to illustrate the magical atmospheres of a legend through magnificent and previously unpublished backstage images. We are therefore presented with a fantastic trip through time that reviews with elegance, art and irony 40 years in the history of imagery and social mores.

We wanted to create something new that would recount a story that was as true and spontaneous as only a backstage approach is capable of expressing, says Ruspoli. Out of the strength of the backstage images emerges all that which it is impossible to recount with words alone.

In order to transfer this sense of truth with the utmost vigour, none of the photographs has been retouched, preserving the originality and integrity of the shots: while they may be grainy, the photos successfully illustrate the passage of time and the different technical and stylistic approaches adopted over the course of four decades.

In-depth and painstaking research led to the inspection and selection of the most significant and emblematic photos from each edition of the calendar. The rarest and most precious and intriguing photos are without doubt those from the early years of the calendar. In the Sixties, many of the most allusive and daring images failed to make the cut for The Cal, but have are now presented in the first part of the book.

The Seventies instead saw an evolution in photographic timing and technique. Emblematic of this was the 1974 edition in which Hans Feurer attempted to put across the difficulties faced by an artist wishing to capture and encapsulate his philosophy in a fleeting moment while all around him, backstage, reigned confusion and creative tension.

The backstage shots from the Eighties are characterised by movie frames: in order to faithfully portray what actually went on behind the scenes, stills are used, significant moments captured live on backstage video.

The 1990s witnessed a backstage revolution: Herb Ritts, Richard Avedon, Peter Lindbergh perhaps the greatest exponents of contemporary photography were among the artists who marked the decade. The backstage images became broader and easier to comprehend, the work of the photographer more intuitive and understandable. The reader perceives the steps that lead to the creation of the final shot.

The Pirelli Calendar backstage book is a unique work, freed from the traditional canons of photographic books, with no fixed rules and regulations: the design and layout do not follow a predetermined pattern, but change according to the style of the photographers, attempting to recreate the idiom and atmosphere of the time.
This break with tradition can be seen from the cover, dominated by a Polaroid negative. This is the leitmotif running through book: each work by a great artist is preceded a Polaroid, the beginning of a great project.
The book concludes with a remarkable scoop: the previously unpublished 1963 calendar by Terence Donovan. This was the precursor of the legend, a kind of zero edition reserved at the time for the UK market.

The book is not on sale and will be distributed to a limited number of personalities.

The Pirelli Calendar 1964-2006: the secret of a success

The secret of this enduring success depends on a combination of ingredients:
  1. It is first and foremost the fruit of the labours of great interpreters of our time who are given the utmost expressive freedom. The choice of the artist involves shrewd, incessant research that starts over each year. Through his or her work the photographer is an interpreter of the trends and styles of his time.
  2. The women featured in the calendar are a broad and fascinating representation of the female universe; each year they interpret and register a new hypothesis of beauty. The list of the famous women portrayed (including those subsequently famous thanks to The Cal) is almost endless: Milla Jovovich, Natalia Vodianova, Lauren Bush, Naomi Campbell, Eva Herzigova, Letitia Casta, Monica Bellucci, Carr Otis and Cindy Crawford to name but a few.
  3. The calendar is not a marketing tool that is put on sale, but is carefully distributed by Pirelli to leading figures in the worlds of politics, industry and national and international culture.

    All this has significantly contributed to the creation of a cult object sought after by enthusiasts and collectors throughout the world. Leading periodicals such as the Sunday Times regularly publish prices and valuations for the rarest editions.

    The History:

    There are three main periods in the history of the Pirelli Calendar:
  1. From 1964 to 1974: the calendar was launched as a corporate gadget and became an exclusive gift for customers. The photographers included Harri Peccinotti, Brian Duffy and Peter Knapp, the young models portrayed the desires and passions of their era and the locations were mainly the distant, exotic localities of dreams. Those dreams were sharply interrupted in 1974 with the advent of the oil crisis, the worldwide economic recession and the wars of those years.
  2. 1984 to 1994: rebirth and development. Prominence was now given not only to the woman but also to the product (tyres), always discreetly and indirectly placed (a shadow on the water, a mark on the sand, ruffles in a lavish dress). Historically, this was a period of regeneration and recovery, with new discoveries and new riches, as conveyed by the Calendar: the locations were the luxuriant beaches of the Bahamas, elegant catwalks, the studios of great artists.
From 1994 to 2005: an about-turn with The Cal reflecting a change of direction taken by the powers that be at Pirelli. The Calendar matured, becoming a sought-after object of pure glamour. The women were the most famous top models, the locations the most beautiful and prestigious in the world: places like the Seychelles, Rio de Janeiro, Hollywood and the Amalfi coast. And the dream continues..