The elegance and whimsy of Bruno Benini

Few photographers have left such an impression on the Australian fashion and design industry as Italian-born, Melbourne-based photographer, Bruno Benini.

Bruno Benini, Pauline Kieman Wears Theo Haskin of Salon Milano, Photographic Rag Print, 81 X 64cm. $1,200 – 1,800

Beginning his photography journey at Melbourne’s Peter Fox studios during the early 1950s, Benini flourished in a milieu of émigré artists, and soon branched out to establish his own studio. Here, his love for fashion photography was kindled through documenting weddings, debutantes, and society events. Benini’s reputation quickly grew, and he soon became a highly desirable photographer of style and couture. Together with his wife Hazel, also an artist and fashion devotee, Bruno was well-loved among Melbourne’s artistic community, hosting lively Friday night parties and elegant Sunday lunches.

Bruno Benini, Lori Craig Wearing Fiorucci Maxi Dress 1985, Photographic Rag Print, 80 X 52.5cm. $1,200 – 1,800

Bruno Benini is best celebrated for his rich legacy of iconic fashion photography. His oeuvre celebrated the creations of Australian designers, from eccentric mod designs of the 1960s through to sleek sportswear of the 1990s. Collaborating with some of the most popular fashion models of his time, Benini’s Italian heritage shines through in his attention to detail, infusing his compositions with romance and whimsy. As a highly sought-after photographer, Benini created iconic promotional series for fashion houses including Laura Ashley, Hall Ludlow Fiorucci, and Sportsgirl across the span of his five-decade career.

Featuring many striking settings in both Melbourne and Italy, Benini’s photographs find a balance between contemporary style and traditional beauty. In addition to his work with couturiers, Benini also extended his craft to include botanical and portrait photography, experimenting with colour, light, and shape in his

Bruno Benini, Nola Clarke and Jenni Mckenzie Wearing Sportsgirl (Photographed on the Sculpture at the Back of the NGV) 1972, C-type Photographic Print, 30 X 24.5cm. $800 – 1,200

McKillop Street studio. Benini was adept at transforming his studio setting; capturing the musculature of the male form with dramatic lighting contrast, or softening the scene to portray delicate flower petals. It was this versatility across a range of photographic themes which made Benini such a desirable photographer for so many clients, both commercial and private alike.

Benini’s legacy has been celebrated through several prominent exhibitions after his passing in 2001, and many of his works are held in the Australian National Cultural Heritage Account; a testament to his lasting impact on Australian photography. We are very excited to be presenting a special selection of works from the Estate of Bruno Benini in this week’s Art Salon, as a perfect complement to our Contemporary Collections auction, also taking place this Thursday the 26th of May 2022.

Tessa Pietsch / Art Salon Assistant

Banner Image: Bruno Benini and his wife Hazel