Best known for his use of shock to raise brand awareness, Toscani shot to notoriety in the 80s and 90s with his daring Benetton campaigns.
Combining clothing brands with arresting news images, Toscani’s advertisements featured subjects ranging from dying AIDS patients to death row inmates to anorexic models. Reactions to his risqué campaigns have always been divided, with some facing public protests and government bans. Controversies aside, there is no denying that he brought the brands unprecedented public attention, calling into question the very role of advertising at its most potent – and establishing Toscani as the master of a field he created.
Oliviero Toscani in Paris on a shoot for Biba magazine
Little wonder Toscani is credited with having revolutionised the role of advertising in today’s world.
Building on the vision he established in the 80s and 90s, he continues to seek out projects with a social conscience and an eye-catching tension. Revealed follows Toscani on his independent project to Israel and the West Bank, where he photographs Israelis & Palestinians for a new project entitled ‘The Human Race’. Toscani hopes that a collection of faces photographed against a white backdrop can demonstrate the unity of humankind and hence the futility of conflict – his personal contribution towards peace in the region. “Photography has to be useful, we all have to do our part to help. When I look at that part of the world, and see the problems don’t improve, I ask myself, what can I do?”
Oliver Toscani Back Home in Italy
From the hustle and bustle of Hebron’s markets to slick fashion studios in Paris, Revealed’s journey sees Toscani working across a variety of contexts and fields, all with one shared theme at their core – what he refers to as the human landscape, the use of photography to create a sense of humanity’s oneness and equality.
At his home in Tuscany, surrounded by his family, horses and dogs, Toscani reflects on his life, career and controversies, “I’m lucky…because I’ve got a very selective memory, I don’t remember things I don’t like”.
Oliver Toscani shows CNN his playground