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

Natura morta

Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964)
Natura morta
signed 'Morandi' (lower centre)
oil on canvas
11 7/8 x 19 3/4 in. (30.2 x 50.2 cm.)
Painted in 1949
Galleria del Milione, Milan, by whom acquired from the artist.
Albert Loeb and Krugier, New York.
Gaston de Havenon, New York, by whom acquired from the above in May 1967, and thence by descent; sale, Sotheby's, London, 30 June 1998, lot 29.
Galerie Jan Krugier, Geneva (no. JK 5583).
Acquired from the above by the present owner circa 2003.
F. Arcangeli, 12 opere di Giorgio Morandi, Milan, 1950 (illustrated pl. 12).
L. Vitali, Morandi, Catalogo generale, vol. II, 1948-1964, Milan, 1977, no. 686 (illustrated).
Bern, Kunsthalle, Giorgio Morandi, October - December 1965, no. 81 (illustrated).
Venice, La Biennale di Venezia, XXXIII. Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte, Mostra retrospettiva di Giorgio Morandi, June - October 1966, no. 63.
Bologna, Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio, L’opera di Giorgio Morandi, October - December 1966, no. 85 (illustrated).
Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Morandi: Exposición antológica, June - September 1999, no. 44; this exhibition later travelled to Segovia, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Esteban Vicente, June - September 1999; and Valencia, Institut Valencià d'Art Modern Centro Julio González, September - December 1999.
Winterthur, Kunstmuseum, Giorgio Morandi, April - July 2000, no. 18.
Vevey, Musée Jenisch, Giorgio Morandi, Alexandre Hollan: A l’écoute du visible, May - August 2001.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

Painted in 1949, Natura morta belongs to a surprising series of still-lifes in which Giorgio Morandi explored a vertiginous composition (Vitali 682, 683, 685, 686). Aligning the upright profile of a tall goblet to the edge of a shelf, Morandi has constructed a composition in which the objects seem to have huddled perilously close to the extremity of the surface on which they rest. While the compactness of their grouping pushes them towards the edge, the gaping void to their right enhances the tension of the composition, behaving in an ambivalent way. A luminous chasm, this void menaces the objects on the verge of their fall: emphasising this impression, a frail streak of brown creates a sense of shadow below the shelf. Yet, the empty space also provides an unusual, strong support: rendered in dense, creamy mustard yellow, it seems to acquire a materiality for itself, as opaque and solid as the goblet against which it seems to rest. Just above the slim shadow, which reminds us of the possibility of a gap, forms suddenly turn into abstraction, the grey tones of the goblet and the yellow of the space seemingly inhabiting the same pictorial dimension.

Situated at the crossroads between space and colour, representation and abstraction, Natura morta is a particularly entrancing example of the subtle, meditative, philosophical dimension of Morandi’s art. The artist’s most devoted admirers were quick to recognise the unique nature of compositions such as the present one. In 1949, commenting on a closely related yet possibly earlier work, Cesare Brandi would revel: ‘a most beautiful thing… among the most unexpected of yours, in terms of its framing, it is among the most accomplished of these recent years. The colour is immaculate, the light has a very precious, silvery intensity: and the idea of that jotting shelf, revealed at its edge through a subtle shadow is an inestimable expedient’ (‘Carteggio Brandi-Morandi’, pp. 191-355, in C. Brandi & M. Pasquali, eds., Morandi, Siena, 2008, p. 299).

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