Friday, November 27, 2015

Giorgio Morandi, The Essence of the Landscape

July 14, 2011 by  
Filed under landscape painting, notable painters, videos

Morandi’s Viewfinder
click here for a larger view


A few months ago I found out about a rare show in Alba, Italy of Giorgio Morandi’s Landscapes where some 70 landscape paintings were shown back at the beginning of this year. There was also a catalog for the show with many excellent reproductions of the paintings in the show. There is a great deal of written material but is only in Italian. I was able to purchase this book ($85.00) from This seems to be the only place you can get this book in the US.


Here is a write up about the show from a Northern Italian travel site.


“An intense research project gave rise to the exhibition “Morandi, l’essenza del paesaggio” (Morandi, the essence of the landscape), mounted at the Fondazione Ferrero in Alba from 16 October to 16 January 2011. The exhibition, of the very highest quality, starts off with an important nucleus of works from the 1910s, very rare oils never before now brought together in such a high number, “landscapes” connoted by formative experiences, starting from Cézanne; to follow, those of the 1930s in which Morandi achieved an autonomous greatness and very high results. A considerable section is the one dedicated to severe and stripped landscapes of naturalism, created during the years of the war. Finally, the “cortili di via Fondazza” (courtyards of via Fondazza) of the 1950s and, again, the landscapes of his final years, permeated with a modern anxiety, characterized by a bare essentiality and by the thinning out of the picture, when by now the boundary between landscape and dead nature becomes transient.”

Please Click for a Larger View (true with all of the images)

From “Giorgio Morandi”, by Karen Wilkin stated: (from

“In the same way, Morandi’s landscapes and his urban scenes – economical views of the countryside near Bologna or of the cortile of his apartment house on the Via Fondazza – tread a narrow line between the essential and the particular. Some of the landscapes have the suddenness, instability, and rightness of an unexpected view from a moving train. Light and shade become abstractions momentarily made identifiable (and tangible) by a transient association with walls, foliage, and earth. A narrow register of grayed, pearly tones, like the rock-solid construction of these pictures, simultaneously pays homage to Cezanne and evokes the special character of the Emilian landscape: the moist, hazy light of spring and fall, the dusty, baking sunshine of summer, the elementally solid farmhouses, the dense rows of silvery juniper, the harshly ploughed fields. The landscapes are soundless, distanced, almost dreamlike. (Brandi recalls Morandi’s using binoculars to study a landscape motif from his studio window). But there is nothing sentimental about the painter’s view of modern-day Italy; there is no nostalgia for an idyllic past…Television antennae and electric wires provide and excuse for subtle, delicate mark-making that mediates between sky and roofline in a series of Via Fondazza paintings of the late 1950’s.

“This dialogue – or tug of war – between the specific and the elemental lies at the heart of Morandi’s work. He seems to explore how much he can simplify before the objects and the places he obsessively returned to throughout his long career become unrecognizable. At other times he backs away from generalization, insisting on particulars to the point where each bottle and vase seems as individual as the subjects of the portraits he draw as a precocious art student.”

from “Giorgio Morandi by Karen Wilkin on Amazon
Giorgio Morandi (Twentieth-Century Masters Series) Rizzoli Karen Wilkin (Author)

Here is a video made from various images of landscape paintings and print from the show’s catalog and other sources (thanks I.H.!)

Here are a select group of images from the catalog to the show…

One of my favorite Morandi quotes:

“Here are most of my paintings, Morandi said to a reporter in the mid ’50s, pointing to a thick dried crust of waste pigment that had accumulated through years of wiping on the crossbar of his easel. Morandi erased more paintings than he finished; his self-editing was relentless, a fact which should give pause to anyone who supposes there might not have been much difference between one still life and the next.

Here is a link to a translated Italian site with more information and images from this show…

Here is an Italian video about the show

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13 Responses to “Giorgio Morandi, The Essence of the Landscape”
  1. Steve Moen says:

    And I was only aware of Morandi’s still lifes. Thanks!

  2. Steve Baker says:

    Strange as it may sound I have 8 books about or relating to Morandi. I don’t recall ever seeing any of the images you have posted. Thanks.

    • Larry says:

      Looks like you’ll need to get one more! You can find a few of these Morandi’s landscapes in the Met’s catalog for their recent show but most of these are pretty hard to find and not likely to be online – which is why I wanted to share this with other painters. They are too important to not be made available to painters. I’m just sorry I didn’t have more time to make even more images from the catalog available. The video I show here has many more found from a variety of sources.

  3. This is great. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

  4. Richard Dean says:

    Thanks for posting these excellent landscapes, most of which were new to me. I saw the big Morandi retrospective at the Guggenheim (in the late 70s?) and, although I liked it, I also thought that 100+ Morandis was more than enough Morandi and the overall effect was rather dull and repititive because the show was too vaste in quantity and not various enough in media or subject. Now I know that if I can ever make a picture that has even a fraction of the honesty, directness and rigour Morandi put into everything he did, I’ll be one happy painter.

  5. Mike Boyle says:

    Giorgio Morandi has long been one of my art heroes. Walking into a small room of Morandi still lifes at the Hirshhorn a few years ago left me spellbound. What beautiful light and paint handling! Many seem to prefer his still life paintings, but I love the landscapes as well. Thanks for posting images from the catalog, Larry. Looks like a good book to own!

  6. Karen Wilkin says:

    As the author of “Giorgio Morandi” published by Poligrafa/Rizzoli, 2009. I was pleased to see a quote from the book above. I was horrified to see my name as “Karen Wilk.” Please correct this and credit to the source of the quotation to the book.

    Thank you.

    Karen Wilkin

    • Larry says:

      Dear Karen,
      A thousand apologies for misspelling your name. I suspect it was a copy and paste error that went undetected. I am correcting this now.

  7. Kathy Craig says:

    thanks for posting these. Someone else did this on my facebook but this is much easier to get at and study.

  8. peter campus says:

    thank you for posting this, and thank you for making it easy to find the catalog in the u.s.
    obviously the colors here do a disservice to morandi, a painter of light, form and color, but the information is invaluable.   I would like to recommend the 1981 catalog from the des moines art center ‘morandi’ which contains some amazing landscapes along with more amazing still lifes.   there are 28 color plates of good quality in my opinion.   it is available from amazon.

  9. zohar trifon says:

    Dear Larry, I am very grateful to you for sharing these images, with such a sense of responsibility to all Morandi seekers. I visited the latest Morandi show in Brussels, also curated by M.Bandeira, but, according to my memory and the bulky catalogue, most of these – if not all – were absent. Thank you!

  10. Hi Larry, I appreciate this post on G.M. and return to it often. I am interested in knowing more about the catalogue you discuss. The link where you purchased this book no longer exists. Would you mind sharing the exact title of the book, isbn #, maybe a photo of the cover? That is if you found this book on Morandi’s landscape paintings of having accurate and high quality images. Thank you! Paula

    • Larry says:

      Hi Paula, It does look like this book is no longer available on that site ( you could try emailing the owner of that site but it does look like it’s out of print. I didn’t see this book being sold in Bologna at the Mambo museum this summer either. However, there is a depressing link on Amazon for the book where there seems to be 4 copies available – (starting at $214.00 ) wish I had better news… here are the details from amazon:
      Publisher: 24 Ore Cultura (January 1, 2010)
      Language: Italian
      ISBN-10: 8871796519
      ISBN-13: 978-8871796512

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