Giorgio Morandi at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Giorgio Morandi is currently showing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. If I was stranded on a deserted island and was allowed to take any 10 paintings with me, a Morandi still life would definitely be one of them.

Here’s the exhibition blurb from the museum..
“This is a comprehensive survey—the first in this country—of the career of Giorgio Morandi, one of the greatest 20th-century masters of still-life and landscape painting in the tradition of Chardin and Cézanne. The exhibition presents approximately 110 paintings, watercolors, drawings, and etchings from his early “metaphysical” works to his late evanescent still lifes, culled mainly from Italian collections, including those formed with Morandi’s help by his friends and by renowned scholars of his art. Accompanied by a catalogue.” Met Exhibition

giorgio morandi still life painting

Giorgio Morandi (Italian, 1890–1964)
Still Life (Natura morta), 1951
Oil on canvas; 14 1/8 x 15 3/4 in. (36 x 40 cm)
Museo Morandi, Bologna
© 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE Rome

giorgio morandi still life painting

Giorgio Morandi (Italian, 1890–1964)
Still Life (Natura morta), 1953
Oil on canvas; 8 x 15 7/8 in. (20.32 x 40.32 cm)
Washington, D.C., The Phillips Collection.
© 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE Rome

giorgio morandi still life painting

Giorgio Morandi (Italian, 1890–1964)
Still Life (Natura morta), 1954
Oil on canvas; 10 1/4 x 27 1/2 in. (26 x 70 cm)
Mart, Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto,
Collection of Augusto and Francesca Giovanardi
Archivio fotografico Mart
© 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE Rome

giorgio morandi still life painting

Giorgio Morandi (Italian, 1890–1964)
Still Life (Natura morta), 1956
Oil on canvas; 9 7/8 x 13 7/8 in. (25.2 x 35.2 cm)
Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, B.A. 1929
© 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE Rome

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. Donald Frazell says:

    I figured you would like his work, sorta cross between ancient roman house murals and giorgio de Chirico. Got lots of white and centered, ballanced, forlorn, sorta like Giacomittis existentialist scultures, but without the angst. Peaceful. Strange

    i like em too. Braque is my favorite 20th century still life artist, and kinda goes both with and in opposition to Odilon Redons flowers. Both otherworldly. And, filled with that sense of god necessary to be called creative art.

    Gonna email my petition to congress on my own. A mans gotta do what a mans gota do. No matter the consequences. Or lack of them. Damn.

  2. Yeah, biggest and loudest isnt always best. There’s nothing pretentious or showy about Morandi.. theyre just well painted little paintings.

    People walk straight past them if theyre placed in a room of colorful modernists as theyre so understated.

    And yeah, I dont disagree with your petition Donald, I just dont think there’s enough art in it.

  3. Donald Frazell says:

    Dion, PLEASE dont call this contemorary crap Modern. Lots of true Modern Art was not overly colorful, Braques were just as classical, and subdued, just darker as he used earthtones, as I do. I AM the master of brown, especially when used in flesh.

    Last of the moderns I guess. Out of date, out of touch. Thank god, as I cant stand to touch what is now. Soon to be washed away in the torrent of history. de Stael did some nice still lifes too. But not a topic many treated after WWII. Been drawing some, but not yet ready to paint. As earthtones are cheaper, and will be broke with the rest in the days to come, gotta go buy more of those $5 22×28 canvases from China while availabe, or go back to the tent and awning place and lumber yard.

    In chaos, life is born. Gotta have faith. And the strength to endure.

  4. says:

    I forgot to ask, you may know. I see the dates of his works are after WWII, in the past i have seen this too. Does that mean he was one of those painters who did not “go for it”, but worked hard all his life, and put into it a life time of knowledge and feeling, in his retirement years? But then, few had retirement as we know it, or knew it, back then.

    Life was harder, two world wars and the first great depression. Actually were other ones in the late nineteenth century, a by product of the avarice and decadence of Meism and capitalism. And revealed in the art of the time, replayed in the last few decades.

    Had to be tougher, to survive, and learn what was truly real and precious to man. Hard times often bring out the best in Man, good times feed his arrogance and distain for truth. Perhaps man is not built for peace, but must look for it through how we live our lives, not feeding our desires.

    The ancient Hellenes said that every generation must go through war, to understand the horror of it. Perhaps with our economy also, manmade disasters in our DNA. We cant handle the responsibility of nurturing what we create, all must create from scratch. Thats what Morandi shows, the beauty in simplicity, feeling life intensely in small accomplishments, everyday life, the single moment of stillness that equates to eternity.

    One must have faith.

  5. They were definitely modernists Donald.. nothing contemporary. I was thinking of a specific time and place, in the Sydney gallery over here. They have a couple little Giorgio Morandis and theyre in a room with some bigger, bolder, more colorful works by artists like Picasso, Kirchner, Bonnard, Monet and a few others. I was sitting in the room for a while and most people just walked straight past the Morandi paintings.

    I’m not criticizing big and bold outright, I’m just saying that small and understated has as much value.

    Love Nicolas de Stael too. Not all of him, but enough to think of him as a great artist.

    Dont lean on them $5 chinese canvases as you fall straight through I bought a box of them recently and now have to rip off all the crappy canvas on them and put some half decent stuff on them.

    And you don’t have to use cheap paint if you stick to series 1 tubes. I dont know if cheap student paint has changed in recent years, but I would rather use dog poop to paint with than use cheap paint.

  6. As far as I know, he worked all his life. I dont think he fought either.

    I think the stillness in a good Morandi painting has more spirituality in it than any Brancusi work ever had. Morandi is peaceful and meditative without even trying.

    Or maybe I read too much into the dull little pots and

  7. Donald Frazell says:

    No, you are right. Its because thats how he thought, felt, and what he wanted to put into his work. The technique follows intent. And grows from focused passions to be turned into a triggeriing mechanism, that which brings out in the viewer complex emotions, life, as simple emotions are just that, simple, childish.

    Now, as he shows, it can be produced from the humblest of sources. The motif is unimportant in itself, its how the artist knows his subject, and can bring out from it in paint the feelings of more. More than just colored mud smeared on woven fabric. THATS art.

    And that is why it can’t be taught, and that techniques mean nothing in themselves, except in applied arts. One must study what is great art, get that feeling, of strenght tenderness, solidity, life. And thats the standard one works TOWARD. We seldom accomplish it, but if we use that as our standard, not what sells or is hip, of fashion and the moment, we can create art. As Morandi did.

  8. says:

    Has anybody here even HEARD of Morandi before? He was just the most famous and best Italian painter after the futurists, especialy as most of them went Fascist. What DO they teach in art schools these days?

    art collegia delenda est
    et tu, capitalism
    The Phoenix has returned to its funeral pyre, after 79 years.

  9. About cheap paint… I can work with cheap acrylics.That said, most cheap oils are horrible. I try to stick with student grade as much as possible. Pre-stretched canvas is ok if you get a good deal on it… stretching your own is far cheaper in the long run.

    “What DO they teach in art schools these days?”

    Donald, I know that in the early 1970′s students still had to connect their art within the context of art history by at least 500 years. Sadly, the schools don’t do that much anymore. Not sure when exactly that stopped as a common req for graduation.

  10. Painting bottles and jars as a subject can be very helpful. Did a lot of that in school. Actually, the professor had us start with basic forms followed by the bottles. Next came the skulls… then a self portrait from looking in a mirror… then a portrait of a class mate while the class mate works on a portrait of you. For the final we had to do a combination. Painting I. Yippy.

  11. says:

    Yeah, it shows. And this way everyone can think they are a great artist, no critical thinking at all, no learning the feel of what is truly great about art.

    That comes with time and experience, of the world, and ones craft. And why everything actually looks the same today, no matter what the technique. Art comes from a purpose, striving to create a complex layering of emotion, making something feel alive, and so being able to examine life, and experience it fresh. And intensely.

    I often say art should have the same intensity of feeling as going into Yosemite Valley, with the waterfalls flowing. My wife had never been there, took a couple of days to set in. But misses it terribly now, after feeling the water melted from far away snowcaps, hiking into the back country, breathing, drinking, living gods creation.

    I am sure walking into the Sistine chapel is the same way. I feel it when before Picassos Demoiselles, and Three Musicians. Matisse Harmony in Red. Gauguins What, are you jealous? Cezannes Mt St Victoire. and to a lesser, calmer, deep and sensual way, Morandis work.

    Now THATs art, and what we strive to create, or should be. Apparently not.

    Sad, and so my motto.

    Art collegia delenda est
    But you gotta have faith.

  12. says:

    Agree about the canvas, the major problem being the cheap gesso, hard to draw on, but did not fall through. I am not a natural daughtsman, but many artists are not. My line carves through mateiaal, and so erase quite alot, trying to create a line of force and character, as well as forms within the lines, and of the socalled background. which Michelangelo did, I am doing nudes right now.

    will buy some better canvas and 1x2s at the lumberyard for bigger work,always did before. And yeah, many of my old paints had dried up after over 12 years, restocked with series 1, $4 a small tube and $7 for the large ones with school opening discounts on. Cant complain about that. A hundred bucks and I am set for a coupla years. Broke, but not that broke. Cheaper than going to the movies. And can make some money off it.

  13. Donald Frazell says:

    And for all you art grads, I recommend as a beginning step towards learning your craft, as it has much from early modernism back, but no Morandi. Lacks many of each artists best works but has over a hundred of many, 300 of Picassos I believe.

    Start to learn what you are building on, or you will be like the two lil pigs, huffed and puffed away. Art is built on what has come before, added onto by the knowledge of the day, and the artists experiences. ALL must be strong to succeed.

    Variety is the spice of life, but only when it is a tasty dish. Microwave food don’t count.


  14. Donald, the last time I told some one that I like Morandi, they corrected me and said, no, it’s said like “M-o-n-d-r-i-a-n”. So he’s not super-famous.

    Brian, oil paints is what I meant. They should have warning labels on cheap oil paint, saying don’t use this crap.

    Even with good quality oil paints there’s big differences in the different brands. I know it sounds a bit anal, but I even use different brands for certain colors. You would think all yellow ochre or paynes grey would be the same, but it’s not.

    One of the good things about the uni I went to (ages ago) was that they produced their own paint so that art students could buy it. It was cheap and it was good quality, so we didnt have to lower ourselves to the colored mud that they call student paints in art supply stores. It’s a pity the uni dont sell to the public or I would still be buying it.

  15. Donald Frazell says:

    Any true artist would know who he is. Those who only read their Garners art history may not know, but if its your field, there is no way in hell you could ot know and still call yourself an artist.

    Why/ Because you love art and want to learn everything that is good about it. No way missing him and understanding his work, if you have this love of art. And if you dont, you cannot be a relevant artist, as you have no foundation to build on, and get huffed and puffed away. Deservedly so, when the times blow hard.

    The hurricane is upon us, only those built upon stone will survive. Ignorance may be bliss when in decadent times, but will not give you the tools necessary to thrive when they go bleak.

    Now is the time for art, it is necessary, needed, and must be a part of the life it reveals.

    One must have faith
    And backbone

  16. Just back from seeing the show. INCREDIBLY moving. At one point I became aware that I was kind of whimpering with some barely suppressed emotion…and I only realized it because some other show-goer gave me an alarmed look and stepped away smartly! ;-) Yikes, but it was that good.

  17. Lucky you Nancy. I wish I could have made it to the museum.


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  2. [...] some of her awesome work.. it really does blur the art/craft lines. Morandi would love her [...]

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