FLORENCE, Italy — Italian shock photographer Oliviero Toscani has done it again — this time with a calendar featuring 12 penis close-ups in an ad for a group of companies that make naturally-tanned leather.
The flamboyant photographer launched the calendar at an event in Florence also attended by famously well-endowed Italian porn star Rocco Siffredi, who said that people should “de-dramatise” sex and put an end to “bigotry”.
Toscani last year focused on women’s genitalia for a calendar for the same Vera Pelle consortium, which brought censure from Italy’s advertising watchdog.
Feminists argued that the graphic images offended female dignity.
One woman at Thursday’s launch said: “I think there’s some kind of justice and equality here! Last year it was women, this year it’s men.”
Philippe Daverio, an art critic, said: “Naked women are tolerated in calendars but unfortunately men aren’t. We are here to defend men’s rights.”
Toscani is best known for his controversial ad campaigns for the Italian clothes maker Benetton, which itself courted controversy last year with a series of photo montages of rival world leaders kissing each other.
His photographs of a man dying of AIDS in 1992 sparked controversy, as did a campaign based on photos of death row inmates in the United States in 2000.
Several publicity schemes using his photographs have been banned in Italy, including an ad for a clothing brand in 2005 featuring two men groping on a sofa which caused outraged in the largely Catholic country.
In 2007, Toscani photographed the emaciated French model Isabelle Caro in the nude for a campaign against anorexia which at the time he said was intended to raise questions about fashion world stereotypes.