Who Was Giorgio Morandi, Master Painter and Perfecter of the Meditative Stare?

Giorgio Morandi, Still Life, 1948-49.COLECCIÓN CARMEN THYSSEN-BORNEMISZA EN DEPÓSITO EN EL MUSEO THYSSEN-BORNEMISZA, MADRID/©VEGAP, MADRID

The revered Italian artist Giorgio Morandi made paintings that are mind-expandingly simple and complex at once. His still lifes of bottles arranged against neutral backgrounds—his favored mode of expression—strike some as boring but others as boundless in their charms. They’re the kind of paintings you can look at for ages while regaling in their quietude. And they’re the kind of paintings that make the pleasure of doing so feel like you’re looking at painting itself—the act, the result, the mysterious means of communication that can exude from a canvas.

Of his work, Maria Cristina Bandera (in the catalogue she co-edited for a 2008 Morandi exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York) wrote, “It seems not to have left room for any of the uncertainty or crisis in which we easily recognize ourselves.” And the vaunted Italian art historian Roberto Longhi distilled it into more concrete terms, writing appreciatively of his “simple ‘objects,’ arranged, graduated, varied, exchanged.”

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