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Oliviero Toscani (born 1942) is an Italian photographer, best-known worldwide for designing controversial advertising campaigns for Italian brand Benetton, from 1982 to 2000. Most of those 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 dying of AIDS, lying in a Columbus, Ohio, hospital bed, surrounded by his grieving relatives. That picture was controversial due to its similarity to a pietà painting and because some[who?] thought the use of this image to sell clothing was exploiting the victim, though the Kirby family stated that they authorized the use and that it helped increase AIDS awareness.
Other advertisements included allusions to racism (notably one with three almost identical human hearts, which were actually pig hearts, with the words 'white', 'black', and 'yellow' as captions), war, religion and even capital punishment.
In the early 1990s, 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 following the controversy surrounding the death row campaign, 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 parents' association Movimento Italiano Genitori, who called the pictures 'vulgar'. The campaign came amidst ongoing debate in Italy about gay rights.
He is creating with La Regione Toscana a new research facility for modern communication called 'La Sterpia'.
- Benetton Pieta in AIDS campaign
- Ireland's Marketing Monthly – Advertiser turned public moraliser
- – Olivero Toscani
- The Observer – Italy snaps over gay poster excess
- Times Online – Campaign to show the naked truth about anorexia
- (Italian) Official website
- OT Horses: American Quarter Horses Oliviero Toscani
- Interview with Oliviero Toscani
- The True Colors of Oliviero Toscani from AdAge International
- Oliviero Toscani from made-in-Italy.com (in Italian)
- Oliviero Toscani at Salon
- ANOREXIA. Storia di un'immagine IMDB
- ANOREXIA. STORIA DI UN'IMMAGINE official info
- The Photo That Brought AIDS Home – slideshow by Life magazine