Sanford Roth, Giorgio Morandi, c. 1946–62, scan from a 35mm negative. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Beulah Roth Bequest. © Museum Associates/LACMA
Giorgio Morandi, Fiori (Flowers), 1915 (detail)
Morandi painted Fiori in Grizzana, in the Apennine Mountains in Italy, where he would spend the hottest months of the year with his family.
Grizzana Morandi, 1981. Photo by Paolo Monti
Giorgio Morandi, Landscape at Grizzana, 1942. Pitti Palace, Florence
Measuring at almost a meter tall, the painting is uniquely large for Morandi’s oeuvre. Its sizable scale and vertical format and the extreme frontality of the pitcher further project the object into the space of the viewer and give the form a distinctly anthropomorphic quality.
Here, David Leiber introduces Fiori and the story behind this work.
Image: Paolo Monti, Studio Morandi, 1981
Left: Sedici Opere di Cezanne (Florence: Libreria della Voce, 1914); Right: Paul Cézanne, Bowl and Milk Jug, c. 1873-1877. Bridgestone Museum of Art, Ishibashi Foundation, Chuo City, Japan
Cézanne’s complete refiguring of the formal and material precepts of painting were especially influential to Morandi. The rough unmodulated facture in Fiori illustrates the impact the master post-Impressionist had on Morandi at this time.
Giorgio Morandi, Fiori (Flowers), 1917. Gianni Mattioli Collection, Italy
Giorgio Morandi, Fiori (Flowers), 1913. Gianni Mattioli Collection, Italy
Giorgio Morandi, Fiori (Flowers), 1916. Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
”Morandi created very few fully realized paintings early in his career, from 1913 to 1920, a time in which he experimented in his own way with the historical avant-garde. He destroyed many works with which he was not satisfied, and he made a handful of relatively large paintings, such as this work, which represented important commitments for him. Looking at the sequence of works from this time—before 1920—it can be said that flowers and still lifes of objects held the same importance and required the same level of commitment for him.’’ —Laura Mattioli
The dislocated planes, earth-tone palette, and flat, stagelike background of Fiori also shows affinities to the art of Pablo Picasso, André Derain, and Henri Rousseau, among other renowned modernists from this time.
Pablo Picasso, Nude with a Pitcher, summer 1906. The Art Institute of Chicago / Art Resource, NY. © 2018 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
André Derain, Still Life with Pitcher and Loaf of Bread, 1912. Bequest of Marianne Littman, Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon
Henri Rousseau, Bouquet of Flowers with China Asters and Tokyos (Bouquet de fleurs aux reines-marguerites et aux tokyos), 1910. Barnes Foundation, Merion and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Significant related early works include two 1914 still lifes in the collections of the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, and the Museo d’arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Roverto, Italy, both of which illustrate the influence of Cubism on Morandi. Still Life (Natura morta) (1916), another experimental early composition by the artist, is in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
In 2019, Fiori was featured in A Backwards Glance: Giorgio Morandi and the Old Masters at the Guggenheim Bilbao. This critically acclaimed exhibition examined the historical artistic influences on Morandi’s art.
Installation view, A Backward Glance: Giorgio Morandi and the Old Masters, Guggenheim Bilbao, 2019
Giorgio Morandi, 1955. Photo by Leo Lionni. © 1955 Leo Lionni. Used with permission of the Lionni family