Off the Shelf: William Wylie

March 24, 2009 — William Wylie, associate professor of art, "Carrara." Photographs, with essays by Eric Scigliano. Center for American Places.

The legendary Cava di Gioia quarry in Carrara, Italy, was the source of the luminous white marble used by Michelangelo, Bernini, Henry Moore and other renowned sculptors. "Carrara," a volume of stunning photographs by William Wylie, reveals that the beauty of the quarry itself can be as alluring as the sculptures carved from its stone.

Wylie is the first photographer to document Cava di Gioia since Ilario Besi, early in the 20th century. For six years, Wylie photographed the changing landscape of the quarry, and his images capture the intense physical scale of the site, the dramatic setting, and the character of the stonecutters, or cavatori, who have worked the quarry for generations. Wylie's astonishing photographs present a remarkable panorama carved by more than 20 centuries of excavation. His images of the stonecutters are sensitive portraits of men shaped by their occupation, toughened and enlivened by their work.

The photographs of "Carrara" bring to life the hitherto unseen beauty of a land better known for its resources than its distinctive beauty.