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Giorgio Morandi

Italian painter known for the still life genre in art
photo of Giorgio Morandi, undated

Giorgio Morandi (July 20, 1890 – June 18, 1964) was an Italian painter who specialized in arranged still life paintings. His paintings are noted for their tonal subtlety in depicting apparently simple subjects, which were limited mainly to vases, bottles, bowls, flowers and landscapes.

Contents

Quotes of Giorgio MorandiEdit

sorted chronologically, after date of the quotes of Giorgio Morandi
 
Morandi, 1918: 'Natura Morta', print (photo by Paolo Monti)
 
Morandi, 1961: 'Ricerca Scientifica', print; (photo by Paolo Monti)
 
Morandi: undated: print no. 5. (photo by Paolo Monti)
 
Morandi: undated: Strips: 7. (photo by Paolo Monti)
 
Morandi: undated: Strips: 1. (photo by Paolo Monti)
 
photo 1. made in 1981, in the studio of Morandi - with the attributes Morandi used for his famous still-lifes; (photo by Paolo Monti)
 
photo 2. made in 1981, in the studio of Morandi - with the attributes Morandi used for his famous still-lifes; (photo by Paolo Monti)
 
photo 3. made in 1981, in the studio of Morandi - with the attributes Morandi used for his famous still-lifes; (photo by Paolo Monti)

1925 - 1945Edit

  • ..it is only in this way, or almost, that a portrait can be painted today [because] all the things punt into the picture have the same importance, they are in the right place.
    • Quote of Morandi on a self-portrait by the painter Henri Rousseau; as cited in Morandi 1894 – 1964, ed: M. C. Bandera & R. Miracco, Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna, 2008; p. 54
  • If you could see what these flowers are. [Morandi's remark, circa 1917 - to the writer Raimondi from Bologna, indicating flowers in the corner of a reproduction of a painting by w:El Greco – beneath the feet of angels and saints]). No modern painter has painted flowers like these. Perhaps only Renoir
    • Quote of Morandi; as cited in Morandi 1894 – 1964, ed: M. C. Bandera & R. Miracco, Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, 2008; p. 48
  • I am now working on a still life with a bottle and other objects spread out on a plane and it seems to be turning out well.
  • Quote in Morandi's letter of 14 Oct. 1919 to the Futurist painter Carlo Carrà; as cited in Morandi 1894 – 1964, ed: M. C. Bandera & R. Miracco, Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna, 2008; p. 92
  • Perhaps I will have photographs taken of the still life with the round table and of the other with oranges and the [piece of] furniture behind.
    • in his letter to the Bolognese writer Raimondi of September 11, 1919; as quoted in Morandi 1894 – 1964, ed: M. C. Bandera & R. Miracco, Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, 2008; p. 102
    • Morandi was referring to some still life paintings he recently made, and he pressed Raimondi to lend him the monograph of Cézanne (written by Vollard and published in 1914).
  • Among the ancient painters, the Tuscan's are the ones that interest me more: above all Giotto and Massacio [in early Renaissance]. Of the modern painters I think that Corot, Courbet, Fattori, and Cezanne are the most legitimate heirs to the glorious Italian tradition.
    • Quote from an article in the Bolognese fascist magazine 'L'Assalto', 18 Febr. 1928; as cited in 'Morandi 1894 – 1964', published by Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, ed: M. C. Bandera & R. Miracco - 2008; p. 107
  • Though aware of just how hard it will be to attain the distant goal I have glimpsed, I am sustained by the certainty that the path I am following is the right one. I repudiate nothing in my past.. .Consciousness has always guided me in my work and I am comforted by the knowledge that in all my endeavors, even in the moments of greatest uncertainty, my personality has always managed to come through.
    • Quote from an article in the Bolognese fascist magazine 'L'Assalto', 18 Febr. 1928; as cited in 'Morandi 1894 – 1964', published by Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, ed: M. C. Bandera & R. Miracco - 2008; p. 268
  • This enabled me to understand the need to abandon myself totally to my instinct, trusting my own energy and forgetting any preconceived style while I work.
    • in Autobiografia, G. Morandi (1928); as quoted in Morandi 1894 – 1964, ed: M. C. Bandera & R. Miracco, Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, 2008; p. 31
  • Among the painters of our day who have helped me develop are Carlo Carra [famous Futurist painter] and Ardengo Soffici; their work and writings have in my opinion been a beneficial influence on where Italian art is going today.
    • in Autobiografia, G. Morandi; (1928); as quoted in Morandi 1894 – 1964, ed: M. C. Bandera & R. Miracco, Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, 2008; p. 44
  • ...[enabled] to touch the core, the essence of things. Even in as simple a subject, a great painter can achieve a majesty of vision and an intensity of feeling to which we immediately respond. [1937, referring to a still life by Cézanne and a river-sight with sandbank by Monet ]
    • in Giorgio Morandi, E. Roditi; p. 63
  • ..before I die I should like to bring two paintings to completion. What matters is to touch the limit, the essence of things.
    • in an interview, Sept. 1939; as quoted in Morandi 1894 – 1964, ed: M. C. Bandera & R. Miracco, Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, 2008; p. 44
  • Let us hope that these dark days [Summer in 1943 when Morandi took refuge from the war in Grizanna where he remained on his own for a year] will be followed by better ones. I work, but these continual worries are extremely tiring, believe me. I should like to see you again..
    • in a letter to his friend Roberto Longhi (1943); as quoted in 'Morandi 1894 – 1964', published by Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, ed: M. C. Bandera & R. Miracco - 2008; p. 198

1945 - 1964Edit

  • I have received your critical essay [of C. L. Ragghianti who visited Morandi's studio frequently and watched him painting] for the catalogue of the Mattioli collection. I must confess that I am not a little disturbed by what you say. I shall say no more. My own desire is to continue to live with a little peace, which is the only thing that still allows me to work. I am sure I am worth much less than what you say. Not out of modesty, believe me. I only wish it were as you say. If you could, please avoid the comparison with Picasso. Furthermore I must point out an error of fact where you say on p. 4 that 'for those who might not know, Morandi draws, tries out plans of his compositions, etc.., etc..' – and you have had the occasion to see the plans of objects on my table. This only serves to immediately recover my position when I reassemble a composition. Nothing more. Another thing.. ..[tracing the shape of his feet on the floor].. ..it's to mark a reference for re-establishing the point of view. Think about this, then. I am grateful for your concern, but believe me when I say it leaves me ill at ease.
    • from his letter of 6 April 1953; as quoted in Morandi 1894 – 1964, ed: M. C. Bandera & R. Miracco, Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, 2008; p. 44
  • As regards my paintings of similar compositions I cannot give you any indication [about possible 'variants' in his works] because I'm afraid I've never made a note of where my paintings have ended up.. .I am always at work and work is my sole passion. And unfortunately I've become aware that I must always start from the beginning, and ought to burn what I've done in the past.
    • Quote in his letter of 2 Aug. 1954; as cited in Morandi 1894 – 1964, ed: M. C. Bandera & R. Miracco, Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, 2008; p. 42
  • I also believe there is nothing more surreal and nothing more abstract than reality.
    • from an interview, 1955; as quoted in Morandi 1894 – 1964, ed: M. C. Bandera & R. Miracco, Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, 2008; p. 38
  • The feelings and images aroused by the visible world are very difficult to express or are perhaps inexpressible with words because they are determined by forms, colors, space and light.
    • in an interview with L. Vitali, 1957; as quoted in Morandi 1894 – 1964, published by Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, ed: M. C. Bandera & R. Miracco - 2008; p. 295
  • When most Italian artists of my own generation were afraid to be too 'modern,' too 'international' in their style, not 'national' or 'imperial' enough, I was still left in peace, perhaps because I demanded so little recognition. My privacy was thus my protection and, in the eyes of the Grand Inquisitors of Italian art, I remained a provincial professor of etching, at the Fine Art Academy in Bologna.
    • In a 1960 interview; as quoted in Giorgio Morandi, 1890–1964, eds. Renato Miracco and Maria Christina Bandera, Exh. cat. Milan: Skira, 2008
    • Morandi claimed in the interview this position
  • He [ Jackson Pollock ] just jumps in before he knows how to swim. [when Morandi sees paintings of Pollock for the first time]
    • in Morandi 1894 – 1964, published by Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, ed: M. C. Bandera & R. Miracco - 2008; p. 298
  • My only source of instruction has always been the study of works, whether of the past or contemporary artists, which can offer us an answer to our questions if we formulate these properly.. .I would never be of much use as a guide or instructor, nor have I ever wanted to be one, even when I have been asked to undertake the job [still, Morandi was art professor - etchings - at the Art Academy of Bologna for many years]. [the text of this interview was later examined by Morandi and approved in the English translation]
    • interview with Edouard Roditi, in 'Dialogues in Art', 1960; as quoted in Morandi 1894 – 1964, published by Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, ed: M. C. Bandera & R. Miracco - 2008; p. 250
  • A white bottle is all that remain.
    • a remark to Lamberto Vitali in 1962; as quoted in Morandi 1894 – 1964, published by Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, ed: M. C. Bandera & R. Miracco - 2008; p. 280
    • referring to the small grooved white bottle, returning frequently in his many still life's, he painted between 1950 – 1960
  • If you only knew.. ..how much I want to work.. .I have some new ideas that I would like to try out. [a few days before Monrandi's death in 1964]
    • a remark to Roberto Longhi, in 1964; as quoted in 'Morandi 1894 – 1964', published by Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, ed: M. C. Bandera & R. Miracco - 2008; p. 338

Interview, 1960Edit

Quotes of Morandi from an interview, 1960; as cited in Dialogues – conversations with European Artists at Mid-century, Edouard Roditi, Lund Humphries Publishers Ltd, London, 1990
  • I have been fortunate enough to lead.. ..an uneventful life. Only on very rare occasions have I ever left Bologna, my native city, and the surrounding province of Emilia. Only twice, for instance, have I been abroad.. .Besides, I speak only my native language, as you see, and read only Italian periodicals.. .When I was in my early twenties, my highest ambition was to go abroad study art in Paris.. ..the material difficulties involved were too great, and I was obliged to remain in Italy. Later I had too many responsibilities, with my teaching and my family [his sisters he lived with] and never managed to go abroad.
    • p. 106
  • I am essentially a painter of the kind of still-life composition that communicates a sense of tranquility and privacy, moods which I have always valued above all.
    • p. 106
  • ..my favorite artist, when I first began to paint, was actually Cézanne. Later, between 1920 – 1930, I developed a great interest in Chardin [famous for his still-life], w:Vermeer and Corot, too.. ..that's why you have been able to detect in my works of between 1912 – 1916 some recognizable influences of the early Paris cubists and above all, of Cézanne.
    • p. 106
  • ..my own paintings of that period (1916 – 1919) remain pure still-life compositions and never suggest any metaphysical, surrealist, psychological, or literary considerations at all [reacting on similarities with the art of Carrà, and de Chirico, suggested by the interviewer]. My milliners' dummies, for instance, are objects like others and have not been selected to suggest symbolic representations of human beings of legendary or mythological characters. The only titles that I chose for these paintings were conventional, like 'Still Life, Flowers or Landscape', without any implications of strangeness of an unreal world [as in Surrealism or in 'Pittura Metafisica' of De Chirico].
    • pp. 106-107
  • I suppose I remain.. ..a believer in Art for Art's sake rather than in Art for the sake of religion, of social justice or of national glory. Nothing is more alien to me than an art which sets out to serve other purposes than those implied in the work of art in itself..
    • p. 107
  • 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 meanings that we attach to it. Only we can know that a cup is a cup, that a tree is a tree..
    • p. 107
  • I have always concentrated on a far narrower field of subject matter than most other painters, so that the danger of repeating myself has been far greater. I think I have avoid this danger by devoting more time and thought to planning each one of my paintings as a variation on one or the other, of these few themes.
    • p. 107

Quotes about Giorgio MorandiEdit

  • Several dynamic still lifes full of fragmented planes evidence Morandi's awareness of Cubist developments and reflect his affiliation (however brief) with the Futurists. The soft color palette, so reminiscent of Quattrocento frescoes, and the volumetric rendering of form of other early paintings remind us of Morandi's trips to Florentine churches to study Giotto, Masaccio, and Paolo Uccello.
  • Accounts have long described Morandi as a provincial painter, leading a quiet and isolated life, un-involved in politics and unaffiliated with any artistic movement - a reticent man so intently focused on his still-life compositions of household objects that he earned the moniker 'the painter of bottles.' It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that established Morandi scholarship avoids complexities and ambiguities in both his life and work that could result in a much richer narrative:. ..an artist responsive to contemporary avant-garde movements, seen in his lesser-known paintings that reveal Futurist, Cubist, pittura metafisica, and Strapaese influences. Morandi's mature works are more difficult to characterize; he embraced neither abstraction nor the propagandistic realism of the 'Novecento' movement. Perhaps Morandi's relative obscurity outside of Italy comes from his distinct place outside of any twentieth-century 'ism'.

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