A painting by Giorgio Morandi titled Natura morta (Still Life), dated 1956.
Giorgio Morandi

Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) was born in 1890 in Bologna, Italy, where he lived until his death in 1964. From 1907-13, he was enrolled at the Bologna Accademia di Belle Arti, where he later served as the professor of engraving and etching from 1930-56. In 1913-1914, he established connections and exhibited with Italian Futurist artists such as Umberto Boccioni, Giacomo Balla, and Fortunato Depero, and in 1918-1919, he worked briefly as part of the Scuola Metafisica with Giorgio de Chirico and Carlo Carrà. By 1920, Morandi established the small-scale depictions of still lifes and landscapes that he would pursue throughout his oeuvre, and that were associated with no other school or style but his own.

His work has been the subject of major retrospectives and traveling solo exhibitions at institutions including the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, which traveled to the New Burlington Galleries, London (1954); Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland (1964); Royal Academy of the Arts, London, which traveled to the Musée National d’art Moderne, Paris, and the Rotonda della Besana, Milan (1970); Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, which traveled to the Kharkiv Art Museum, Kharkiv, Ukraine (1973); San Francisco Museum of Art, which traveled to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, and the Des Moines Art Center, Iowa (1981); Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura, which traveled to the Fukuyama Museum of Art, and the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, all in Japan (1989); Musée Maillol, Paris, which traveled to Museu de Arte de São Paulo, Brazil (1997); Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, which traveled to IVAM - Institut Valencià d'Art Modern, Valencia (1999); Tate Modern, London, which traveled to the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2001-02); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, which traveled to the Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna, Italy (2008); Museo d’Arte Città di Lugano, Switzerland (2012); and the BOZAR - Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (2013).

A Backward Glance: Giorgio Morandi and the Old Masters, a major exhibition examining the formation of Morandi’s practice, was presented in 2019 at the Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain. In 2020, a solo presentation of the artist’s work, Giorgio Morandi: Major Works from the Cerruti Collection, was featured at the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Turin, Italy.

Morandi has been included in important international group exhibitions, such as the Quadriennale di Roma, Italy; the Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil, where he was awarded first prize for etching in 1953 and first prize for painting in 1957; Documenta, Kassel, Germany; and the Venice Biennale, Italy, where he received the City of Venice prize in 1948. In the United States, he participated multiple times in the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh.

He was a member of the prestigious Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, Florence; the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, Rome; and the Swedish Academy. In 1993, the Museo Morandi was established in Bologna, Italy, and is currently located in the Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna.

The artist's works can be found in public and private collections including the Art Institute of Chicago; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Musée d’Orsay, Paris; Museo del Novecento, Milan; Museo d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Trento, Italy; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Tate, London.

August 30, 2022

Giorgio Morandi’s steady pursuit of a poetic vision in still-life and landscape painting (as well as engravings and etchings) has secured him a singular and revered position in the history of modern art. While drawing on the achievements of Giotto, Cézanne, the metaphysical painters and the cubists, Morandi’s work finally resembles no one else’s, and quietly defies paraphrase: everything is enigmatically clarified in the work itself, in all its apparent simplicity, on terms entirely specific to the artist’s compositional gifts, in which respect he might almost be described as the Erik Satie of painting.

The original writings and interviews collected in this substantial new volume trace Giorgio Morandi’s various influences, illuminate the atmosphere of Bologna that so characterized the artist’s sensibility, and allow us to analyze the myth that has formed around his life and personality. Karen Wilkin, editor of this volume and the author of monographs on Georges Braque, Anthony Caro, Helen Frankenthaler, Hans Hofmann, Kenneth Noland, and David Smith, has assembled an important contribution to the critical understanding of this great artist.

Publisher’s page

Image of the Cover of Giorgio Morandi: Works, Writings, Interviews

Cover of Giorgio Morandi: Works, Writings, Interviews

September 24, 2021–January 9, 2022

Morandi: Infinite Resonance is a retrospective exhibition of work by Giorgio Morandi, one of the most significant and unclassifiable artists in the history of twentieth-century art. The Italian painter barely traveled outside Italy and spent almost his entire life in his home and studio in Via Fondazza, Bologna. Here, he engaged in creating work in which everyday objects, flowers, and landscapes became the protagonists, with the intention of producing, as noted by Ardengo Soffici, “a harmonious composition of colors, shapes and volumes that exclusively obeyed the rules of unity, like the beauty of consensus.”

The exhibition provides a comprehensive overview of Morandi’s output in seven sections that address all the themes the artist loved, primarily still lifes, landscapes, and vases of flowers. The earlier part of the exhibition features the paintings Self-Portrait (1925) and Bathers (1915), two of the few examples of human representation in his work. In addition, the exhibition includes a selection of works by contemporary artists, among them Tony Cragg, Tacita Dean, Joel Meyerowitz, and Rachel Whiteread, who establish a dialogue with the language of the Italian artist in different media (mainly photography, painting, sculpture, and ceramics).

A painting by Giorgio Morandi, titled, Natura morta (Still life), dated 1941

Giorgio Morandi, Natura morta (Still life), 1941

Exhibition Catalogue:
Morandi: Infinite Resonance is accompanied by a two-volume catalogue. The first volume focuses on the work of Giorgio Morandi and the second is devoted to the echoes of his art in contemporary creation. Both reproduce all the works on display.

Volume I, in Spanish and Catalan, includes an essay by Daniela Ferrari and a biography of Giorgio Morandi by Beatrice Avanzi, both curators at the Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto (MART) and the curators of the exhibition. It also features a text by the writer and philosopher Andrea Pinotti, professor of aesthetics at the Università degli Studi in Milan, and a bibliography by Lorenza Selleri, curator of the Museo Morandi in Bologna.

Volume II, in Spanish, includes the work of the contemporary artists included in the exhibition and an essay by Alessia Masi, curator of the Museo Morandi in Bologna and academic advisor for the selection of works by these artists.

December 6, 2020–June 14, 2021

Giorgio Morandi: The Poetics of Stillness marks the first museum exhibition in China to showcase the work of the celebrated Italian artist Giorgio Morandi. Presenting over eighty works, the survey exhibition explores six decades of Morandi’s practice, spanning from his first 1914 exhibition and early cubist- and futurist-inspired period to his later work in the 1960s, just before his death. Rather than following a chronological approach, the exhibition is assembled with reference to specific elements of Morandi’s practice—transcendence, repetition, and Nature—accenting the artist’s ability to capture the qualitative nature of time and create deep spaces of contemplation within moments of unrest.

In recognition of Giorgio Morandi’s inaugural solo exhibition in China, the show considers the artist’s silent investigations of form, meditative use of repetition, and introspective compositions in tandem with concepts of timelessness found in European and traditional Chinese thought and philosophies.

A painting by Giorgio Morandi, titled Fiori (Flowers), dated 1952

Giorgio Morandi, Fiori (Flowers), 1952

February 25–June 28, 2020

With Giorgio Morandi: Major Works from the Cerruti Collection, the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea continues the in-depth program on the works of the Cerruti Collection. The five paintings by Giorgio Morandi belonging to the collection testify to the variety of pictorial languages of one of the most significant artists of the twentieth century and thus refute the criticism of monotony, thematic and formal, sometimes levied at the artist, instead allowing us to see his ongoing exploration of still life and reduced palette as a meditation on form and perception. The works from the Cerruti Collection allow us to comprehensively retrace the entire chronological span of Giorgio Morandi’s artistic experience. In terms of execution, Morandi’s painting evolves from the significantly chiaroscuro style, rich in tonal modulations, of the 1945 painting Natura morta (Still life), to the opaque surfaces of the 1951 version, created with dense and overlapping brushstrokes. In terms of visual direction, the blocks of color in the 1939 Paesaggio (Landscape) seem almost to oppose the soft light modulation, reminiscent of the fifteenth-century painting of Piero della Francesca, of Fiori (Flowers) of 1954 and Natura morta (Still life) of 1958.

Morandi’s paintings, exhibited in the rooms on the first floor of the Castello di Rivoli, are juxtaposed in dialogue with some of the most significant works of the museum’s collections by artists including Ettore Spalletti, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Alighiero Boetti, Maurizio Cattelan, and Emilio Prini, showing the current and uninterrupted relevance of this twentieth-century master.

A painting by Giorgio Morandi, Natura morta (Still life), 1951

Giorgio Morandi, Natura morta (Still life), 1951

“I felt that only an understanding of the most vital works that painting had produced through the past centuries could guide me in finding my own way.” —Giorgio Morandi

This month, a major exhibition at the Guggenheim in Bilbao examines the formation of Giorgio Morandi’s practice. While the small-scale still lifes and landscapes for which he is best known are associated with no specific painterly school, Morandi looked to many sources in creating his work. With this presentation, Guggenheim curator Petra Joos aims to expand on the monographic approach seen in a number of retrospectives and solo exhibitions to date, presenting his work in the context of artists he studied and drew inspiration from.

The exhibition is organized into three sections, each devoted to a particular period and frame of artistic reference for Morandi’s work. "Morandi and the Still-Life Tradition" examines his relationship with the art of the Spanish Golden Age during the seventeenth century; "Morandi: A New Incamminato" looks at the lineage of artists in Morandi’s native city of Bologna from the late sixteenth to the early eighteenth centuries, among them Giuseppe Maria Crespi, whose work he admired; and "Space and Matière: Chardin and Morandi" explores his engagement with the work of the eighteenth-century French genre painter Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin, whose work influenced Morandi’s use of composition in the late 1940s and early 1950s. "Morandi’s spare still lifes of simple household things flew in the face of modern movements such as Surrealism," Apollo magazine notes; "This exhibition shows how he looked instead to past masters’ handling of specific objects such as El Greco’s flowers, or Chardin’s boxes."

Morandi’s work is also on view at the Center for Italian Modern Art in New York through June 1, where Metaphysical Masterpieces 1916–1920: Morandi, Sironi, and Carrà focuses on the short period that concluded the first phase of two major avant-garde movements: cubism in France and futurism in Italy.

Installation view of the exhibition, Metaphysical Masterpieces 1916-1920: Morandi, Sironi, and Carrà, at the Center for Italian Modern Art in New York, 2018.

October 19, 2018–June 1, 2019

Works by Giorgio Morandi were included in Metaphysical Masterpieces 19161920: Morandi, Sironi, and Carrà at New York's Center for Italian Modern Art (CIMA). Curated by James Bradburne, director at Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, in collaboration with CIMA's president Laura Mattioli, the show focused on the short period that concluded the first phase of two major avant-garde movements: Cubism in France and Futurism in Italy.

The new forms that emerged at that time were to lead to what has been called the “Return to Order” in art during the first years of the 1920s, in which avant-garde art approaches were rejected in favor of classicism and realism.

Image: Installation view, Metaphysical Masterpieces 19161920: Morandi, Sironi, and Carrà, Center for Italian Modern Art, New York. Photo by Dario Lasagni

September 28, 2018–January 13, 2019

Uncannily Real: Italian Paintings of the 1920s presents more than eighty paintings from Realismo Magico, an Italian art movement marked by evocative images of disturbing beauty. After the First World War, there was an increasing desire for calm and order, and to make sense of a world ravaged by tragedy, or, at the very least, to accept its contradictions. Out of this context, Germany witnessed the evolution of Neue Sachlichkeit, in France there were multiple neoclassical tendencies, and Italy saw the emergence of Realismo Magico.

When Mussolini came to power in 1922, art began to evolve against the backdrop of a society marked by fascism. It may have been due to the political situation of those years that the ambiguities of these fascinating paintings, which all too often trigger uneasiness in the viewer, received relatively little attention in recent decades.

This exhibition provides the first-ever broad overview of Realismo Magico in Germany, featuring outstanding works by the main protagonists of the movement, ranging from Antonio Donghi, Felice Casorati, Gino Severini, and Edita Broglio through to more well-known artists such as Giorgio Morandi, Giorgio de Chirico, and Carlo Carrà. Realismo Magico is not a group of artists, but an artistic stance. The art historian Franz Roh described the phenomenon in 1925: “With ‘magical’ as opposed to ‘mystical,’ the aim is to suggest that the mystery does not enter the world being represented, but remains behind it.”



May 26–July 1, 2018

Today, the world is flooded with information about every conceivable field, and is growing ever more globalized and diverse. In this environment, museums’ conventional procedures for storing and exhibiting art by era or by region are becoming ineffective. In Europe and North America, museums of contemporary art have been holding an increasing number of thematically organized exhibitions. This exhibition presents works from the collection of The National Museum of Art, Osaka, grouped according to nineteen themes. These themes are ones that enable viewers to stop, think, and find new meanings, and can be roughly divided into “elements of works” and “subjects depicted in works.” The art on view is diverse, ranging from iconic works that embody certain themes to selections that may surprise the viewer, and includes around fifty new acquisitions. The basic frameworks by which art is classified—era, region, genre—are taken into account, but combinations and juxtapositions highlight connections among widely varied works of art. This special exhibition of works from the collection seeks not merely to reconfirm what each viewer already knows about art, but to elicit new discoveries and offer opportunities to think about art from new angles.

Exhibiting artists include Giorgio Morandi as well as Dan Flavin, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, On Kawara, Sherrie Levine, Sigmar Polke, Thomas Ruff, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Luc Tuymans.

Installation view featuring work by Giorgio Morandi in The Myriad Forms of Visual Art: 196 Works with 19 Themes, The National Museum of Art, Osaka, 2018

Installation view featuring work by Giorgio Morandi in The Myriad Forms of Visual Art: 196 Works with 19 Themes, The National Museum of Art, Osaka, 2018

Post Zang Tumb Tuuum. Art Life Politics: Italia 1918–1943, conceived and curated by Germano Celant, is an exhibition that explores the world of art and culture in Italy in the interwar years. Based on documentary and photographic evidence of the time, it reconstructs the spatial, temporal, social, and political contexts in which the works of art were created and exhibited, and the way in which they were interpreted and received by the public of the time.

The investigation was carried out in partnership with archives, foundations, museums, libraries, and private collections and has resulted in the selection of more than six hundred  paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, posters, pieces of furniture, and architectural plans and models created by over one hundred authors. In Post Zang Tumb Tuuum. Art Life Politics: Italia 1918–1943, these objects are displayed with period images, original publications, letters, magazines, press clippings, and private photographs—for a total of eight hundred documents—in order to question, as explained by Germano Celant, “the idealism in exhibitions, where works of art, either in museums or other institutions, are displayed in an anonymous, monochromatic environment, generally on a white surface, to connect them to period photographic testimony and reinsert them in their original historical communication space.”

The exhibition provides an immersive experience consisting of twenty-four partial reconstructions of public and private exhibition rooms. These full-size recreations from period photographs contain original works by artists such as Giorgio Morandi as well as Giacomo Balla, Carlo Carrà, Felice Casorati, Giorgio de Chirico, Fortunato Depero, Filippo de Pisis, Arturo Martini, Fausto Melotti, Scipione, Gino Severini, Mario Sironi, Arturo Tosi, and Adolfo Wildt, among others.

Exhibition catalogue

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