Out of Print Giorgio Morandi — , an Italian painter and printmaker renowned for his simple yet stunning still lifes, is also famous for his legendary reputation as a recluse, an artist who resided in a world bound by the walls of his Bologna studio. Abramowicz shows how Morandi worked in close proximity to mainstream contemporary European art and tells the story of his relationship to the Fascist politics and patrons of his time, illustrating how his connections to this period were muted after the fall of the regime in post—World War II Italy in an effort to establish the artist as apolitical. Morandi was the only Italian modernist to emerge from Fascism unscathed. An important new addition to scholarship on twentieth-century Italian art history, this book features many rare and previously unpublished images and will fascinate admirers of Morandi and his transcendent work. Janet Abramowicz is an independent scholar specializing in Italian art.
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Although rendered in an abstract fashion, the viewer is still able to identify an upright book with its binding facing outward, which is positioned in front of a clear bottle, a vase, and a pitcher. In the space behind the table appears an abstracted view of a room, suggesting part of a wall, a window, and another table. While the objects are all inert, they are painted to suggest instability and movement, with a diagonal thrust that propels them towards the viewer.
In his early years, Morandi experimented with emerging styles; this painting shows the influences of both Futurism and Cubism. Elements of Cubism are visible in the use of bold outlines that emphasize basic geometric shapes and their arrangement into a compressed plane, along with the thick application of muted tones of paint. The works are rendered simply and lack detail.
They sit on a beige tabletop, the edge of which is slightly below the center of the canvas, dividing the composition into three bands. The top and bottom band are a chocolate brown, highlighting the tabletop which depicted in lighter tan to better define the objects and the shadows cast.
Although this subject is unremarkable in itself, Morandi believed it carried important potential, describing how "even in as simple a subject, a great painter can achieve a majesty of vision and an intensity of feeling to which we immediately respond.
Although unassuming, this work must have been a particular importance to Morandi, as it was displayed for many years on the wall of his studio; he also selected this painting to show at the Venice Biennale. A key painting in his oeuvre, this is one of a small number of works in which he drew inspiration from the Metaphysical school of painting and most particularly shows the influence of the leading artists of this style, Giorgio de Chirico and Carlo Carra.
While the three objects resemble a ball, a skittle pin, and a mitered frame edge, the way in which they are arranged is unrealistic, producing a surreal, slightly disturbing effect.
They float in the enclosed space of a box that also defies perspectival space. Yet, even when working within this irrational style, Morandi depicts the objects in a tightly structured arrangement. Art historians have argued that it was during this phase of Metaphysical painting that Morandi first experimented with giving deeper meanings to common objects.
Later Morandi would distance himself from any participation in this movement stating, "My own paintings of that period remain pure still life compositions and never suggest any metaphysical, surrealist, psychological, or literary considerations at all. The items are placed on a dark wooden hutch or low sideboard against a cream paneled wall. Arranged according to their height, the objects gentle rise as the composition moves from left to right, creating an effect of gentle movement.
A pattern is created between the rounded forms of the plate, the bowl, the oranges and the verticality of the cloth and box. It is a simple, undramatic scene that features a dirt road bordered by lush fields and trees of green.
In the far right appears a white house with an orange-brown roof, with two windows. In the background, a blue sky is bisected by a band of light-blue and white clouds. Morandi often worked in series, pushing the viewer to notice slight variations and modulations between similar canvases.
Having established his reputation as a modern artist by this time, Morandi included this work in a room dedicated to his paintings at the prestigious Quadriennale exhibition in Rome in Although he resists abstraction, Morandi is equally resistant to detailed, illusionistic reproduction; he remained a studio painter, who occasionally studied his subject through a telescope or binoculars.
Painted in his typical simple style, the scene is rendered in thick loose brushstrokes. While there is little detail, he captures the essence of the sun and the natural world, as experienced in this quiet town. In each of this series, he gathers a number of vessels around the cloth, with only slight variations in the composition and palette.
Through these slight adjustments, he draws our awareness to the subtle effects of light, shape, and color, while retaining a sense of silence and timeless stillness.
We see here his attention to repeated forms, as the roundness of the vase on the right is echoed by the white dish and wide-necked jar on the left.
The two white vertical towers are balanced by the crumpled horizontality of the yellow cloth and brown bowl that stretch between them, along with the striated tabletop upon which they sit. And yet these horizontal and vertical shapes do not snap into a perfect grid, but remain askew; the lines and contours of these objects are neither completely definite nor straight, providing a sense of instability to the composition.
The vertical elements stand out against an expansive horizon line. Bathed in the same warm, gentle light as his landscape paintings, they are not unlike the sun-faded buildings of the Italian countryside.
The single object is a white vase, filled by a small bouquet of pink and white roses in various states of bloom. Almost monochromatic in its palette, the work is comprised of various shades of cream and white but for the few pink petals.
The series reflects his modern style of loose, gestural brushstrokes and soft colors. Yet, unlike many artists who painted flowers for their vibrancy, Morandi often worked with silk or dried flowers, a subtle choice that changed the intensity of the color palette and made the overall effect of the work more muted. He occasionally even covered the flowers with a layer of dust to further subdue the original colors and remove them from any connection to their natural environment.
The emphasis is firmly not illusionistic, but about creating a relationship between closely-related colors and forms. Oil on canvas - Private Collection Natura morta Still Life This canvas features a grouping of five items, placed closely together in two tight rows. In the front are three boxes; behind them appears the lip of a small blue vessel and a taller white vase whose long neck and circular opening stands above all the other objects.
Often he would begin by carefully tracing the outline of the objects on actual tabletop surface before experimenting with various screens to control the light that would filter onto the objects. He would sometimes even make an outline of his own feet to indicate where he should stand on the studio floor to avoid any distortions or inconsistences as he developed the painting. The result was a perfect suspension of time, which allowed him to focus on formal relationships in a controlled environment.
The Brooklyn Rail
Tags What are tags? A stranger who sat beside me on the plane on my way to Manila happened to be an artist as well. Giorgio Morandi —an Italian painter and printmaker renowned for his simple yet stunning still lifes, is also famous for his legendary reputation as a recluse, an artist who resided in a world bound by the walls of his Bologna studio. Abramowicz documents how the artist was aware of these publications, and manipulated his image in the press, and was controlling in his relationship with collectors, galleries and dealers. A Publication of the College Art Association. University of the Sunshine Coast Or. Preview — Giorgio Morandi by Janet Abramowicz.
Giorgio Morandi: The Art of Silence
In Giorgio Morandi: The Art of Silence, artist and writer Janet Abramowicz attempts to dismantle the ivory tower that Morandi has been placed in by giving a broad and detailed account of his career in the context of 20th century Italian culture and politics. Abramowicz presents a wealth of information, much of which would probably interest only a specialist in the history of Italian art and literature. While the text occasionally offers a revealing personal anecdote, it falls short on psychological and artistic revelations. At other times, sensitivity to development and detail within the work is illuminating, and the wealth of reproductions forms a vibrant counterpoint to the narrative. Indeed, one cannot help but wonder if the Morandi myth was created to hide or obscure personal details or issues that may have proved more explosive and interesting than his Fascist connections. Placing Morandi within an historical context that documents these connections opens the door for considerations of such a broad nature, that perhaps it would be too much to expect the writer to undertake, when her purpose was simply to position Morandi within a more precise intricate social fabric.