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


Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964)
signed 'Morandi' (lower right)
oil on canvas
10½ x 11in. (26.8 x 28cm.)
Painted in 1953
Curt Valentin Gallery, New York.
Professor Dr. George L. Floersheim, Basel, by 1956.
L. Vitali, Morandi, Catalogo generale, vol. II, Milan 1977, no. 841 (illustrated).
Winterthur, Kunstmuseum, Giorgio Morandi, Giacomo Manzù, June-July 1956, no. 49.
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Lot Essay

Painted in 1953, Fiori is an intimate and absorbing picture showing one of Morandi's most-favoured themes: flowers. He had begun painting pictures of flowers at a tender age, in his early teens, and returned to the subject again and again throughout his career. Morandi's art is an art of stillness, and this is something that is clearly translated into this jewel-like shard of meditative tranquillity. That stillness was perhaps emphasised by the fact that Morandi used silk flowers as his subjects, rather than fresh blooms. This, then, is no insight into fading beauty, into the life of plants or into nature, but is instead a more poetic, philosophical quest for pictorial harmony, captured here in both the composition and the subtle use of colour and tone which results in a picture of extreme elegance and eloquence. While many images of flowers had traditionally been used as a form of memento mori because of the liability of the bloom to fade, it is precisely the inability of these dusty silk flowers to crumple and crumble that adds a tender awareness of ephemerality to Fiori.

Only a few years after Fiori was painted, it was shown in the exhibition that Morandi shared with his fellow Italian artist Giacomo Manzù in Winterthur, across the border in Switzerland. Morandi made one of his rare forays outside his native Italy to visit this exhibition, travelling with Lamberto Vitali. 1956 accounted for all of Morandi's international travel, as he also visited Switzerland to see an exhibition of Cézanne's pictures in Zurich, as well as visiting Baron Thyssen's villa, La Favorita, in order to see his collection, especially his magical pictures by Chardin, now in the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid. These two pilgrimages, which followed Morandi's retirement from his teaching position at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Bologna, provide us with a telling insight into both the structure and the mysterious, magical ambience with which Morandi's paintings such as Fiori are so lyrically infused.

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