Focus on Art is a video series by M&L Fine Art, presenting iconic artworks by key artists of the gallery programme. This episode will focus on Giorgio Morandi's splendid 1959 Natura morta.
Over the course of fifty years Giorgio Morandi exclusively painted the same collection of everyday objects, religiously safeguarded at his studio in Via Fondazza, Bologna. Laid out before his palette in rotating arrangements, they formed the basis of Morandi’s signature compositions. While Morandi’s gaze was rooted in the real space of his mise-en-scènes, it would be mistaken to assume that he was merely recording what he saw.
In his first works, influenced by the metaphysical research of Giorgio De Chirico, Morandi’s volumes appear more chiselled, and neatly defined. In later paintings, the object’s compactness gives way to freer, contrasting brushstrokes punctuated by rare and startling chromatic flashes. It is only by the end of the 1940s that the artist appears to confidently embrace the mature style of his later works.
The objects portrayed in this period remain imbued in soft natural light, but are increasingly abstracted through the subtle diffusion of their delicate, tonal hues. Details are consciously omitted in favour of ambiance. Shapes are simplified into intimations of pure geometry. Bottles appear suspended mid-air. Morandi focuses on the essential, nothing more.
Reality is thus stripped of all superficiality, and driven to the heart of the matter: a reflection on life itself. Thus, the objects stand collected as the faithful in prayer.
After Morandi’s death in 1964, few artists have attempted to approach still-life painting. Giorgio Morandi was the greatest modern interpreter of this genre, at the same time decreeing its extinction.