Antonio Martinelli was born in Venice in 1953. He graduated in Architecture from the University of Venice. Martinelli is a Paris-based photographer of international reputation, who has worked extensively in India, Europe, and Japan, and has published many works as well as produced exhibitions on architectural and geographical subjects. Martinelli has been associated with the Alkazi Collection of Photography, housed at the Alkazi Foundation for much of the artist’s research on the architectural history of India.
In 1975, almost at the beginning of his photographic career, with very little equipment and limited amount of time, Martinelli shot the first black and white images of Chandigarh. Later in 1984 he returned, using only 35 mm Kodak chrome colour slides film; in 2014, he shot only with 35 mm digital Nikon and Canon cameras.
“Oriental Scenery: Yesterday and Today” opened at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi in 2011. In this work, Martinelli traced the footsteps of English artists William Daniell and Thomas Daniell, recapturing some of the same sites the Daniells’ had painted over the years during the 18th century. The skill and artistry involved in this project necessitated the same dedication, hard work and expertise as what was exhibited by the Daniells.
In 2014 The Metropolitan Museum of Art commissioned Martinelli to photograph the art and architecture of the Deccan region. His photographs evoke the mood, spirit, and grandeur of the Deccan, its palette, and people, often appearing like otherworldly dreamscapes – of a far from forgotten, past. In addition, they become important documents of the remaining historical sites of the Deccan.
In October 2015, “In The Footsteps of Le Corbusier,” an exhibition of photography was held at Art Heritage as a collateral event of the Delhi Photo Festival. This exhibition comprised of a historic selection of photographs taken by Martinelli of Chandigarh and Ahmedabad over a span of 40 years. Le Corbusier, the most influential master of modern architecture in the West , was commissioned to design Chandigarh, the first planned city in India by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. An enormous undertaking, the design of Chandigarh was an inspiration to contemporary Indian architects, providing a module of modernity, that could possibly suit a nation in transition.
As an architect, photographing in the cities of Chandigarh and Ahmedabad has been a fascinating experience for Martinelli, as there is a “commitment to discovering the relationship of architectural design to the environment, space, culture and the daily life of people that use it. In this work, Martinelli has captured the essence of India, as an amalgam of the urban and rural and contemporary and ancient traditions. Part of the Chandigarh series was showcased by Art Heritage at the India Art Fair, January 2016.
Most notable of his many book publications are: The Royal Palaces of India (Thames & Hudson, 1994), Oriental Scenery: Two Hundred Years of Architectural Heritage (Citadelles & Mazenot, 1998) and Palaces of Rajasthan (India Book House, 2003). His latest book, Lucknow au Miroir du Temps (Filigranes Editions, 2011), is also the catalogue of the exhibition he held at the Musée Guimet in Paris.