Interior detail of the parish church of San Paolo Apostolo in Gallarate near Milan, build by the architects Mariarosa Zibetti and Stefano Ribaldone 1971-1973.

Silent places of worship

Photographer Stefan Giftthaler has captured the church buildings realized in and around Milan after World War II in a series of impressive images that exude a sense of calm.

As also happened in West Germany, from the 1950s onwards North Italy experienced an enormous economic upturn and rapid growth. And again as in the young Federal Republic, the expansion of the population and construction boom that followed also spawned a great many new churches. 

As Milan and Lombardy are known not only as the country’s economic engine, but also as the center of modernist architecture in Italy, it was hardly surprising that the new places of worship here were of an especially high artistic quality. Now photographer Stefan Giftthaler has documented, in a series of images, the churches built since World War II in the archbishopric of Milan, one of the largest and wealthiest dioceses in the world. 

His subtle and aesthetic shots are located somewhere between classic architectural photography and ecclesiastical still-life images. He presents the spaces, which have meanwhile been used for liturgical purposes for centuries, as places where faith is practiced, with all their traces of use. Simultaneously, he shines a light in his photographs on the architectural qualities of the individual buildings, be it the magnificent details in the churches designed by Gio Ponti or the strong sculptural impact of Brutalist concrete architecture. (fap)