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Giorgio Morandi by Renato Miracco
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Giorgio Morandi

by Renato Miracco

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This is a handsome coffee table book of 116 paintings and sketches, most of which are in color, from the artwork of Giorgio Morandi, where Karen Wilkin writes 35 pages of text providing the background, the influences and biographical highlights of the artist. She also sprinkles in comments on Morandi's art along with quotes from the artist, for example, when Morandi described himself as "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 that sets out to serve other purposes than those implied by the work of art in itself. . . . "

I was drawn to the art of Morandi when I read how the German existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger said how the still lifes of Morandi were able to make the nature of things experienced comprehensible in ways that a philosophical essay was not. This observation coupled with Maurice Merleau-Ponty noting how a painting can display a kind of openness and immersion in the world that we, as viewers, can learn a great deal from.

I recall how one art historian encouraged students of art to "trust your eyes, but use them well," and how we should not avoid the responsibility to read a painting as well as trusting our initial response. So, with this trusting and reading in mind, let's look at plate number 82, Still Life, 13 x 17 ½, oil on canvas. Set out on a table, three small cylindrical objects touch one another in the middle of the painting. The front of the table is rich chocolate brown, the top a lighter brown and the wall behind a still lighter brown. The irregular shaped cup on the left, brown in color, seems to catch the light of the sun; the small bottle in the middle is the brightest color, an earthy orange; the cup on the right is a more faded orange. The brush strokes are visible, almost having the quality of finger painting. Usually we can imagine a certain piece of music fitting the subject or mood of a work of art; not here, this is a world that is private and silent; it is as if we can sense the artist silently communing with the objects and space and light.

When we approach a subject we wish to investigate carefully, it is wise to sharpen our focus if we want to penetrate for a deeper understanding. This is my sense of Giorgio Morandi's art. He spent the majority of his creative life painting a handful of objects on a bare table in a bare room touched by light. It is as if the objects opened themselves to him and open themselves to us via his art; as if, through his painting, we are given an opportunity to understand the cups and bottles and pitchers and bowls and other objects on their own terms. ( )
  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
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