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Memento Morandi
My attempt at a more or less literal copy of a favorite Morandi painting.


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detail, Memento Morandi
Even though this page is called “Bottles” it is really just my fan page for Giorgio Morandi.  And a place to keep all my little bottle paintings together so the other pictures won’t make fun of them.
I have a number of bottle studies in various stage of completeness.  I’m attempting to understand what’s going on in Morandi paintings that is so moving to me.
Morandi Bottle
Work in progress, oil on panel. I’m happier with this one compared with the two below.  At least at this stage.  It may just be the inherent visual charisma of the bottle and not something in the execution that I can put my finger on.

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Green Bowl, study

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Red Bowl, study

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White Bowl, study
I haven’t seen a Morandi painting in the flesh, just reproductions.  There aren’t a lot of them and they are mostly secreted away in private collections.  But even seeing reproductions of them was a transformative experience to me.  It convinced me that there was something going on in painting, or more precisely, going on occasionally in a few paintings, that was viscerally wrenching and which I had no idea of how to explain or compartmentalize.  But something that I just wanted to keep looking at and feeling.  And apparently, from what I have read, something that hits quite a few people when they first see Morandi’s paintings.  Umberto Eco, the Italian author/philosopher/linguist gives a readable account of his first encounter with a Morandi (translated to English by Google).
Morandi was born in 1890 and died in 1964.  During his long artistic career he started out enamored of Cezanne and Cezanne’s French predecessors such as Corot and Chardin.  Morandi in his early years did work that grouped him with Italian Futurists and later with the “Metaphysical Italian painters such as de Chirico and Carra.  Morandi was famously reluctant to talk about his work, but I think there is a certain hard-to-describe “uncanniness” in his later work that dates from his visual interest in the “Metaphysical” style of painting.  Throughout his painting career he was a professor of art and made his living teaching etching at the University in Bologna.  From the beginning of his career he continually painted seemingly simple landscapes and still lifes.  The paintings I am most stuck on are from the mid 1950’s, “bottle paintings”, that have an inscrutable presence, that not only sends your perception oscillating between fascination with depiction and a study of the painted surface as an abstract object, but also a sort of second order oscillation with the way in which he depicts.  The shapes of his bottles are oftentimes subtly assymmetric, elongated or somehow out of proper linear perspective, which creates an impression of clunkiness or ungainliness at times, but simultaneously there are continual moments of foveal specifity where I get a feeling of immediacy or hyperreality  in the depiction that exceed anything I think I’ve seen in a two-dimensional representation of  an object in three space.  Trying to understand why that occurs and articulate the means keeps me returning to his paintings and to my painted  studies of his style.

Morandi’s Still Lifes (Natura Morta)

morandi, natura, morta, still life, bottles, 1954

Giorgio Morandi, Natura morta, 1954




Giorgio Morandi, Natura Morta, 1954

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Giorgio Morandi, Natura Morta, 1954