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Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964)
Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964)

Natura Morta

Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964)
Natura Morta
signed 'Morandi' (upper right)
oil on canvas
17 7/8 x 19 7/8in. (45.4 x 50.5cm.)
Painted in 1948
Galerie Jan Krugier, Geneva (JK 3767)
Acquired directly from the above by the father of the present owners in 1988
L. Vitali, Morandi, catalogo generale, vol. II 1948-1964, Milan 1977, no. 652 (illustrated).
Sao Paolo, Museu de Arte Moderna, I Bienal: Artistas Italianos de Hoje, October-December 1951, no. 91.

Lot Essay

Unquestionably, Giorgio Morandi ranks among the greatest still-life painters of the twentieth century. Working year after year in his small studio/bedroom, the artist sought a classical perfection of form, in which his paintings would balance exquisitely on the thin line between observation and idealization. The painter commented, "I believe that nothing can be more abstract, more unreal, than what we actually see. We know that all we can see of the objective world, as human beings, never really exists as we see and understand it. Matter exists, of course, but has no intrinsic meaning of its own, such as the meaning that we attach to it. We can know only that a cup is a cup, that a tree is a tree" (quoted in K. Wilkin, Giorgio Morandi, New York 1997, p. 124). It is this philosophical and poetic insight that gives his pictures their haunting and mysterious beauty.

The Italian painter and critic, Ardengo Soffici, described Morandi's art as a search to create "from the elements of visible reality, not an anecdotal depiction subject to the accidents of the moment and of placement, but a harmonious ensemble of colours, forms, volumes that obey only the laws of unity-like the beauty of chords" (op. cit, pp. 21-25). Although rooted in the acute observation of specific objects, Morandi's pictures point to an eternal and Platonic universality of beauty.

Given this aesthetic inclination, Morandi was drawn to earlier artists who shared his fascination with form. Among modern painters, the most influential for Morandi were Czanne and the Cubists, Picasso and Braque. But even more, Morandi saw himself as the heir of a specifically Italian tradition going back to Giotto, and including Piero della Francesca, Uccello and Caravaggio. It was Roberto Longhi, the eminent art historian, who first stressed Morandi's link with the masters of the past. Writing in 1934, Longhi declared that Morandi was "one of the best painters living" and praised his ability to steer a "course through the dangerous waters of modern painting with such thoughtful slowness and loving studiousness that he seems to be setting out in a new direction." (ibid., pp. 18-21).


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