The Pirelli Calendar, also known as, The Cal™ was born in 1964. At that time Pirelli’s British subsidiary was looking for a marketing strategy to help Pirelli stand out from domestic competition and appointed the art director Derek Forsyth and British photographer Robert Freeman, famous for his portraits of the Beatles, to produce what was an entirely innovative project for its day. The result was an exclusive product with artistic and cultural connotations that from the start set it apart from the world of fashion and “glamour”.
Since then, for more than 50 years The Cal™ has continued to mark the passing of time with images by the most highly acclaimed photographers of the moment – capturing and interpreting contemporary culture and often setting new trends.
From 1964 to 2020, a total of 47 Pirelli Calendars have been produced by 38 photographers. The 48th edition, Pirelli Calendar 2022 has been shot by the musician and photographer Bryan Adams.
“Love Letters to the Muse”, the 2023 Pirelli Calendar, created by Emma Summerton, is presented today at the Pirelli Hangar Bicocca Museum of Contemporary Art in Milan. The Australian photographer has dedicated the 49th edition of The Cal ™ to her muses, that is, to the many women who, in her search for inspiration, have guided her path and her decisions as artist and as a person.
From its first edition in 1964 to today, Emma Summerton is the fifth woman to sign the Calendar, after Sarah Moon in 1972, Joyce Tenenson in 1989, Inez Van Lamsveerde (of the Inez and Vinoodh duo) in 2007 and Annie Leibovitz in 2000 and 2016 This year it is Emma Summerton herself who, together with director Carlo Alberto Orecchia, has directed the presentation video for the 2023 Pirelli Calendar.
"For the Calendar, I wanted to return to the etymological root of the word muse. Originally, the muse represented the artist himself in search of inspiration", explains Emma Summerton, stating that "she is fascinated by women who do extraordinary and creative things, women who have inspired me throughout my career and my life, starting with my mother". People from whom I have learned a lot: writers, photographers, poets, actresses and directors. So my idea was to pay homage to these extraordinary women and create a world in which to represent them."
The 2023 Pirelli Calendar brings together 28 snapshots of 14 models portrayed with the dreamlike style that distinguishes the work of Emma Summerton. The choice of these women was not the result of chance. Each of them has affinities with the muse she was destined to represent on the sets set up in London and New York for the report, carried out between June and July. "In my photos, the border between the role that the models represent and what they really are is not defined, and everything blends into a magical realism", explains the photographer.
Thus, for example, we have Guinevere Van Seenus, who in addition to being a supermodel is also a photographer in real life; Lauren Wasser, model but also an athlete; Ashley Graham, who in the Calendar represents the activist, known for her battles in support of body positivity, and Precious Lee, the storyteller who she loves to write scripts and stories.