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The Pirelli Calendar That Wasn’t Now Is


The year isn’t quite up yet, but news about Pirelli’s upcoming 2014 Calendar is that it isn’t. It isn’t a 2014 calendar, that is.

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The tiremaker reports that to celebrate the celendar’s milestone 50th anniversary, it decided not to produce a 2014 calendar. Instead, it is releasing the previously unpublished 1986 Pirelli Calendar created by Helmut Newton, which until now has been kept under wraps in the company’s archives.

Pirelli says the lengthy reconstruction work carried out by the Pirelli Foundation contributed to making this project possible. It also took advantage of the happy coincidence that 1986 and 2014 share the same dates and days.

Celebrations marking 50 years of the Pirelli Calendar are taking place in HangarBiocca, the company’s contemporary art venue, and Pirelli invited some 800 guests to the Nov. 21 Calendar launch. HangarBiocca also plays host to a retrospective exhibition that guests will enjoy before it opens to the public tomorrow and Saturday; the exhibition features at least 160 images taken by the more than 30 photographers who have worked on the calendar over the years.


The Pirelli calendar is, in fact, a British institution, having been thought up and introduced by Pirelli UK in the early 1960s. But by the company’s own admission, by the mid-1980s Pirelli Italia had noticed the calendar’s global potential and wanted a “slice of the action.” The Italian operation decided it would produce the calendar of its own and in 1986 both British and Italian projects ran side-by-side.

Pirelli says each “resolutely” ignored the existence of the other. The Brits employed the service of veteran U.S. photographer Bert Stern while Italy plumped for German Helmut Newton. In the end, Stern’s work was selected for the final 1986 calendar and Newton’s version spent the best part of the following three decades in Pirelli’s archive.


Those looking at Newton’s work today will immediately notice the presence of Pirelli tires in each photograph, something not seen in recent calendars. No tires were present prior to 1986, either – when Pirelli Italia asked Newton to envision the calendar in the spring of 1985, the company placed no restrictions on his creativity, but specified that the Pirelli product had to appear in the photographs. Before then Pirelli had focused on images far removed its core business and any product placement had been subtle, at most limited to tire tracks in the sand seen in 1984 or the Cinturato graphic motif on the costumes worn by the models a year later.


The first shots of Newton’s calendar were taken in May 1985 at the time of the Formula One Grand Prix in Monte Carlo, where the photographer had his home. The next location chosen was Podere Terreno in Chianti, Tuscany, and it was among the vineyards and countryside around Siena that Newton found the right light for his interpretation of the Italian version of the calendar.

The 1986-2014 calendar being revealed this week also retains the spirit of the original project in terms of layout. It presents 12 black and white posed photographs accompanied by 29 backstage shots. “The edition being presented has never been distributed in its entirety, and has been produced with the utmost respect for Newton’s idea of the original project,” stated Pirelli. “The photographs follow his creative concept, and the end product has been edited to faithfully reflect his artistic vision.” (Tyres & Accessories)

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