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


Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964)
signed 'Morandi' (lower right)
oil on canvas
8 1/8 x 7¼in. (20.7 x 18.5cm.)
Painted in 1953
L. Vitali, Morandi, Catalogo generale 1948/1964, vol. II, Milan 1983, no. 844 (illustrated).
Tokyo, Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, Giorgio Morandi Flowers and Landscapes, October - November 1998, no.33. This exhibition later travelled to Sagamihari City, The Light and Greenery Art Museum, December 1998 - February 1999.
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Lot Essay

Morandi started painting flowers at a young age - one early example dates from the artist's early teens - and flowers would sporadically re-emerge as a theme throughout his artistic career. Most of the flowers Morandi painted, though, were not real but instead imitations made of silk, not the perfumed bouquets of Henri Fantin-Latour or even of his beloved Chardin, but lifeless parodies. This permitted the artist to use them to play with notions of reality through his painting. In Fiori ('Flowers'), painted in 1953, Morandi presents the imitation flowers with candour and honesty. He accepts the bunch of flowers as an object in its own right, regardless of the strange ingredient life provides to real flowers. Morandi's subject matter is not life, but a much more wide-ranging and profound concept of existence and reality. The flowers exist, be they imitation or real. It is the viewer's fickle mind that over-interprets perceived objects, firstly believing art to represent reality, secondly assuming that the flowers were real. Morandi explores these discrepancies in all his art, and here by letting the flowers dominate their gem-like canvas, forcibly confronts and disrupts the viewer's perceptions of reality. Where his still-lifes tend to explore a geometrical distillation of reality, his flower paintings explore the simplest preconceptions of painting.
Despite all this, Morandi is not playing games with the viewer's perceptions, but rather eschewing them completely by providing a simple, unflinching depiction of an object from his collection of ephemera. Fiori thus manages to be an attractive flower-painting while also being the perfect proof of Morandi's own statement that: 'In my opinion nothing is abstract. In fact I don't think there's anything more surreal or more abstract than reality' (Interview with Morandi, 'Voice of America', Presto Recording Corporation Paramus, New Jersey, 25 April 1957).


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