Ugo Mulas

(1928 Pozzolengo, Italy – 1973 Milan, Italy)

Ugo Mulas was one of the most important international photographers of the post-war period, known especially for his street photography and portraits of artists.


Born in Pozzolengo, Italy, he originally studied law in Milan before changing his focus to art and photography. Mostly self-taught, Mulas was asked to photograph the Venice Biennale from 1954 to 1972 and worked side by side with a wide range of artists.

Important projects include the famous series on Lucio Fontana (1965) and the series dedicated to Eugenio Montale’s Ossi di Seppia. After discovering Pop Art at the 1964 Biennale, Mulas decided to go to the United States, where he created his book New York: The New Art Scene (1967) photographing important figures such as Jasper Johns, Roy Lichenstein and Barnett Newman. His encounters with Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol, and his discovery of the photography of Robert Frank and Lee Friedlander, influenced his work of the late 1960s.


From then on, he took part in the aesthetic and conceptual renewal of the neo-avantgarde movement, realising reportages on the tenth anniversary of the Nouveau Réalisme. Mulas was also involved in experimental work in theatre, first collaborating with Giorgio Strehler and then with Virginio Puecher. 


Mulas developed a profound rethinking of the historic function of photography and these aesthetics and phenomenological reflections led to his portfolio on Marcel Duchamp (1972) and to the project Archivio per Milano (1969-72). His last series of works, Verifiche, summarises his experience and dialogue with the art world.


Mulas died in 1973, a month before the opening of his retrospective held at the University of Parma and the publication of his book La fotografia.