Benedetta Barzini

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Benedetta Barzini (born September 22, 1943, in Porto Santo Stefano[1]) is an Italian actress and model, daughter of Italian journalist and author Luigi Barzini, Jr. and his first wife, Giannalisa Feltrinelli. As such, she is the half-sister of Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, the Italian publisher and left-wing political activist.[2]


Barzini was discovered at age 20 on the streets of Rome[3] by Consuelo Crespi in 1963; Diana Vreeland soon thereafter received photographs of Barzini and sent a telegram asking if she could come to Manhattan to shoot for American Vogue[3] with Irving Penn.[4] She did so, and within ten days, she was signed with Ford Models.[3] She hence established a successful fashion career in New York City,[1] working with other notable fashion photographers such as Ugo Mulas, Richard Avedon,[4] and Henry Clarke.[4] Barzini appeared on the cover of the first issue of Vogue Italia in November 1965, and became the first Italian model to be featured on the cover of American Vogue.[1]

In December 1966, Barzini was named one of the "100 Great Beauties of the World" by the American fashion magazine Harper's Bazaar. She began training at the Actors Studio around that time,[4] and in the process became romantically involved with, and later engaged to, New York poet and media artist Gerard Malanga, an early collaborator of Andy Warhol.[5] He would dedicate various works to her, such as his Poems for Benedetta Barzini and The Last Benedetta Poems.[4] Additionally, Malanga's 1967 black-and-white film In Search of the Miraculous is an emotional, vivid poem of adoration for Barzini.

Barzini became friends with and muse to artists including Salvador Dalí, Lee Strasberg, Bert Stern, and Richard Avedon in the course of her career.[6] She also started hanging out at Andy Warhol's Factory and was headed for the top rank of New York models, but decided to return to Italy in 1968 to act.[7] She met Italian film director Roberto Faenza, and they married in 1969. On the night she gave birth to twins, Nini and Giacomo, Faenza left her.[5] She later married graphic designer Antonio Barrese and had two additional children.[8]

Activism and teaching[edit]

In 1973, Barzini left the modeling business to become a Marxist, member of the Italian Communist Party,[8] and radical feminist organizer in Milan.[5] As of 2008, she was teaching in at the Polytechnic University of Milan and New Academy of Fine Arts, also in Milan, and at the University of Urbino,[9] lecturing on subjects such as problematic images of women in fine art and the mass media.[7] She guest-lectured at academic institutions such as the Italian University for Design.[9] She retired from teaching sometime in the 2010s.[10]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • In 2017, Barzini received a gold medal for civil honor from the Milan City Council, in part for “destroying the stereotype of the brainless cover girl.”[7]

In media[edit]

The 2019 documentary film, The Disappearance of My Mother, was directed by Beniamino Barrese, Barzini’s son.[11] The film showed at the London Film Festival 2019, Sundance, and other festivals, events, and venues, charting in at the 32nd Annual European Film Awards.[12][13]


  1. ^ a b c BENEDETTA BARZINI Archived 2015-03-18 at the Wayback Machine VOGUE ITALIA encyclo. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
  2. ^ Alba Solaro (31 March 2017). "Benedetta Barzini: "Che bello non essere più bella"" [Benedetta Barzini: "How nice to no longer be beautiful"]. Il Venerdì (in Italian). La Repubblica. Retrieved 7 November 2017. We pulled out, for example, photos of Benedetta's mother, chic, cool, upper class. The lady was Giannalisa Gianzana Feltrinelli (mother also of Giangiacomo), her father the journalist Luigi Barzini jr. The quote in the original Italian is: Abbiamo tirato fuori per esempio le foto della madre di Benedetta, chic, freddissima, upper class». La signora era Giannalisa Gianzana Feltrinelli (madre anche di Giangiacomo), il padre il giornalista Luigi Barzini jr.
  3. ^ a b c "Benedetta Barzini On The Art Of Ageing Gracefully". British Vogue.
  4. ^ a b c d e "The Boldly Heroic Benedetta Barzini: Marxist, Model and Muse". AnOther. August 23, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Once a 'Vogue' Star, Benedetta Barzini Is Now Fashion's La Pasionaria, People Magazine, Vol.8, No. 2, July 11, 1977
  6. ^ "New York's unreciprocated love for Benedetta Barzini". Document Journal. October 16, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c
  8. ^ a b (in Italian) Mamma, che male Archived 2012-03-13 at the Wayback Machine, intervista con Benedetta Barzini, Il Venerdi, November 3, 2000
  9. ^ a b IAAD, Comunicazione. "Add Benedetta Barzini to Your Experience".
  10. ^ Pak, Chris (October 9, 2019). "A Beautiful Act of Separation". Medical Humanities.
  11. ^ Scott, A.O. (December 5, 2019). "'The Disappearance of My Mother' Review: Son's View of a Model Parent". The New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  12. ^ "THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MY MOTHER / LA SCOMPARSA DI MIA MADRE" Check |url= value (help). https.
  13. ^ "Beniamino Barrese, actor of the film The Disappearance of My Mother". Fred English Channel. December 8, 2019.