Giorgio Morandi, The Essence of the Landscape
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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 Artbooks.com. 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.”
From “Giorgio Morandi”, by Karen Wilkin stated: (from artchive.com)
“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