After 25 years, the images by Sebastião Salgado of burning Kuwait arrive at Forma Meravigli, Milan. From October 20th until January 28th.

"I never saw, before or after that moment, such an unnatural disaster." Sebastião Salgado

“I never saw, before or after that moment, such an unnatural disaster.” Sebastião Salgado


The man is walking alone and he’s immersed in a cloud of chemical powder. Around him, the black desert of oil and fear. In front of him, only red flames. As he walks, he probably thinks: “It’s over”. While looking at him, we cannot stop thinking: “What a perfect shot.”

Forma Meravigli will host, from October 20 until January 28, the first photographic exhibition of the pictures taken in Kuwait by the great Sebastião Salgado.

These are the shots made 25 years ago, during The Gulf War. With his work, Salgado has definitely immortalized a piece of history that we will hardly forget. Let’s say never, after this exhibition. In front of these black and white portraits and these lunar landscapes we just can’t stop asking ourselves: “Can  disaster be beautiful?”

The images taken by Salgado are so perfect and accurate that we can only admire them, even if we are watching one of the most terrifying moments in our history.


Sebastião Salgado, Burning Desert

Sebastião Salgado, Kuwait, A Burning Desert

The exhibition Kuwait, A Burning Desert, puts us in front of one of the greatest conflicts in contemporary history. Our history. It was 1991 when Iraqi troops set fire to six hundred oil wells to prevent the troops of the US-led coalition to advance. The Gulf War had been over for less than a month and already there was an imminent environmental disaster: the earth was burning.

Salgado was one of the first to understand the magnitude of the disaster. He then decided to follow the firefighters and technicians in their heroic attempt to limit the cataclysm. Because it is in that subtle limit between the man who destroys and the man who repairs, that, sometimes, beauty is hidden.


"It was like addressing the end of the world, a world full of blackness and death." Sebastião Salgado

“It was like addressing the end of the world, a world full of blackness and death.” Sebastião Salgado

Is it fair to document the tragedy at the very moment that it takes place? Should the tragedy be so perfect? This is one of the questions the visitor asks himself in front of these 34 images, all with a huge visual impact, that are exposed at Forma Meravigli.

Salgado, with his black and white pictures, captures the last spark of that apocalyptic light that makes the contrast between red flames and oil. The black, damned oil that covers things, animals and people. The desperation of the firefighters, their lost steps, tells us about an apocalyptic scenario. In one of the picture, there are two men, one behind each other. The first man is standing, with his hands almost praying, the second man is immersed in oil up to his knees, his head chined, won. They are firefighters, but above all, they’re men in front of the apocalypse. In Salgado’s words, “it was like approaching the end of the world, a world full of blackness and death.

After 25 years, Sebastião Salgado has decided to take these photographs in hand and enrich the selection with unpublished shots. The exhibition shows the result of this new selection, permitting to us to admire the courage of men in front of the apocalypse and of someone who wanted to recount that courage. At the end of the visit, we are grateful to Sebastião Salgado for his great work. 

Forma Meravigli
Project room for photography
Via Meravigli, 5
20123 Milano
+39 02 5811 8067


Opening hours: 11 a.m. until 8 p.m.\Thursday 12 a.m. until 10 p.m.\closed on Monday and Tuesday 

Tickets: 8 Euro

All Photos: Kuwait © Sebastião Salgado