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Giorgio Morandi

Italy 1890 - 1964

Still Life

Giorgio Morandi
Giorgio Morandi
March 20, 2017
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A 20th-century master of the painted still life, Italian painter and printmaker Giorgio Morandi built his distinguished reputation by painting subtle, tonal and simple depictions of everyday household objects. His oil paintings usually featured arrangements of vases and bowls, rendered in such a fashion that they have low levels of color saturation and subtle tonal variation, underlined by the artist’s understated paint handling. Heavily influenced by the Post-Impressionist style and early Cubist painters, Morandi developed a simple style that he maintained and stayed true to throughout his life, continuing to depict the same assortments of ceramic vessels in countless variations and arrangements, stubbornly refusing to surrender his visuals to the pressures of the avant-garde society.

Morandi - Untitled - Image via pinterestcom
Giorgio Morandi – Untitled – Image via

Childhood and Student Days

Giorgio Morandi was born in the town of Bologna to Andrea Morandi and Maria Maccaferri – initially, he lived on Via Lame where his brother Giuseppe and his sister Anna were born. Later his family moved to Avesella where two additional sisters were born in 1900 and 1906. From 1907 to 1913, Morandi studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Bologna (Academy of Fine Arts of Bologna) where he learned many aspects of art making that served him well in the long run. Following the death of his father in 1909, Giorgio moved to via Fondazza and Morandi effectively became the head of the family[1]. During that time, Morandi taught himself to etch by studying books on Rembrandt. Although he lived his whole life in and around Bologna, Giorgio was massively influenced by the works of Paul Cezanne, Andre Derain and Pablo Picasso.

Morandi - Natura morta, 1951 - Image via zeteojournalcom
Giorgio Morandi – Natura morta, 1951 – Image via

World War I

After a quick stint with the Futurist style in 1914, Morandi joined the army in 1915 but suffered a breakdown and was indefinitely discharged. During the time of the war, Morandi’s still lifes became more reduced in their compositional elements and started to show a pureness in form. Soon after the World War I ended, Morandi was appointed instructor of drawing for elementary schools in Bologna – he held this post until the year of 1929. The Metaphysical painting or Pittura Metafisica phase in Morandi’s work lasted from 1918 to 1922 and this was followed by what will prove to be his last major stylistic shift[3]. After it, Giorgio focused increasingly on subtle gradations of hue, tone and objects that were arranged in a unifying atmospheric haze[2] – this stylistic direction will be his choice of work for the rest of Morandi’s life.

Giorgio Morandi - Untitled art works - Image via pinterestcom
Giorgio Morandi – Untitled – Image via

Giorgio Morandi and Strapaese Group

Although Morandi showed his paintings in the Novecento Italiano exhibitions of 1926 and 1929, he was more specifically associated with the regional Strapaese group. This fascist-influenced group was emphasizing local cultural traditions and were known to get quite radical when it came to their beliefs. Giorgio was sympathetic to the Fascist party in the 1920s but still had many friendships with anti-Fascist figures.[4] From 1928, Morandi participated in some of the famous Venice Biennale exhibitions, as well as in the Quadriennale in Rome and in different Italian and foreign cities.

New York in 1964 and 1890 had every painter whose art and works met the museum terms
Giorgio Morandi – Natura morta, 1951 – Image via

Style of his Still Life and Landscape Work

The scattered palette, distinct lines and careful brushstroke of Morandi’s still lifes are unmistakably modern in style. His work may be grounded in familiar and universal forms, but the way he painted suggest an autobiographical quality – his careful paint handling and attention to an identifiable Italian quality of light made his still life and landscape work truly stick out. Interestingly, he never stopped being completely engaged with his own pictorial experiments[5], even when the contemporary art movements of the avant-garde currents were overwhelmingly interested in abstract painting.

Giorgio Morandi dedicated his life to looking for the pictorial structure and order of still life that underlies the process of representation

Giorgio Morandi - Still Life - Image via museivaticaniva
Giorgio Morandi – Still Life – Image via

Mature Life and Art

In 1948, Venice Biennale awarded Giorgio Morandi first prize for painting. He visited Paris for the first time in 1956 and, during the following year, he won the grand prize in São Paulo’s Biennial. He held etching lections at the Accademia di Belle Arti until 1956. Quiet and polite both in his private and public life, Morandi was much talked about in Bologna for his enigmatic personality. He was a well-liked person in his town and was regarded as a local celebrity. Morandi died of lung cancer on the 18th of June 18 in 1964. He lived on Via Fondazza, in Bologna, with his three sisters Anna, Dina and Maria Teresa.

Use the vases and bottles as home objects without the need to contact for privacy terms
Giorgio Morandi – Still Life Etching – Image via

Where Giorgio Morandi Fits in Art History

Giorgio is also an interesting artist to study from an entire art history standpoint – still lifes are one of the most conventional and everlasting subgenres of painting and by investigating and comparing Morandi’s work to pieces that were made centuries or more ago, we get an interesting insight of how the authors from different eras tackled the same themes and sets of problems[6].

In many ways, Giorgio Morandi and his painting practice bridged the grand legacy of Italian art and radical changes of twentieth-century modernism

Morandi - Untitled - Image via pinterestcom
Giorgio Morandi – Untitled – Image via

The Power of His Still Life Compositions

In more ways than one, Giorgio Morandi’s work can be interpreted as a peaceful rejection of the turbulent and fast-paced modern world in which the artist lived, as well as an internal reflection on life itself. It can also be analyzed from a purely superficial aspect, as the following statement by the painter himself may imply: I believe that nothing can be more abstract, more unreal, than what we actually see. Regardless of the desired approach to interpreting his art, there is no denying that Morandi’s painting of the unremarkable is a valuable element of the 20th-century modern art.


  1. Ewing, H., Guidi, M. G., Piccioni, L., Giorgio Morandi, Center for Italian Modern Art; 1st edition, 2015
  2. Miracco, R., Wilkin, K., Morandi, G., Giorgio Morandi, Charta/Italian Cultural Institute, New York, 2008
  3. Guese, E. G., Morat, F. A., Morandi, G., Morandi: Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings, Etchings (Art & Design), Prestel Publishing, 1999
  4. Bandera, M. C., Franciolli, M., Pizzetti, S. T., Hustvedt, S., Carroll, L., Morandi, G., Giorgio Morandi, David Zwirner Books, 2017
  5. Mattioli, L., Morandi, G., Giorgio Morandi: Late Paintings, National Portrait Gallery, 2015
  6. Galluzzi, F., Tuymans, L., Bonnefoy, Y., Zwagerman, J., Bandera, M. C., Morandi, G., Giorgio Morandi: A Retrospective, Silvana Editoriale; First English Language Edition, 2013

Featured image: Giorgio Morandi – Photo of the artist – Image via
All images used for illustrative purposes only.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2017Giorgio Morandi 1890–1964The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow Solo
2017DomesticTruth and Consequences, Geneva Group
2016Giorgio MorandiMuseo Castello San Materno, Ascona Solo
2016Giorgio MorandiIwate Museum of Art, Morioka Solo
2016Il Segno Inciso Di Giorgio Morandi. Matrici E Stampe A ConfrontoMuseo Morandi, Bologna Solo
2016Melotti And MorandiBarbara Mathes Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2016Ritmo sopra a tuttoMuseo MAGA, Gallarte, VA Group
2016All Means are SacredM. Woods, Beijing Group
2016La Seduzione Dell’AnticoMuseo d’Arte della città di Ravenna (MAR), Ravenna Group
2016Graaaficaaa ItaaalianaaaDes Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA Group
2015Giorgio MorandiHyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, Kobe Solo
2015Giorgio MorandiGalleria d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, Bologna Solo
2015Giorgio MorandiDavid Zwirner, New York City, NY Solo
2015Resistance and PersistenceIngleby Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland Group
2015Una CollettivaGalleria Tonelli, Milan Group
2015Los modernosMuseo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City Group
2015Orizzonte Nord-SudMuseo d’arte della Svizzera italiana (MASILugano), Lugano Group
2015Faux AmisSimon Lee Gallery, London Group
2015Günter Umberg mit Giorgio MorandiGalerie Haas AG, Zurich Group
2015ProportioAxel & May Vervoordt Foundation, Venice Group
2015Arts and FoodsLa Triennale di Milano. Design Museum, Milan Group
2014Hommage an MorandiStadtgalerie Brixen, Brixen Solo
2014Calzolari Morandi ParmiggianiGalleria de' Foscherari, Bologna Group
2014Static: Still Life ReconsideredBirmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Birmingham Group
2014EquilibriErica Fiorentini Arte Contemporanea, Rome Group
2013Giorgio Morandi E T C H I N G SHubertus Melsheimer Kunsthandel, Cologne Solo
2013Giorgio MorandiEstorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, London Solo
2013Gestochen scharf. Von Dürer bis KirkebyStädtisches Museum Zwickau, Zwickau Group
2013Gli Angeli, la pittura e il Novecento ItalianoAgnellini Arte Moderna, Brescia Group
2013The Painted HumanHubertus Melsheimer Kunsthandel, Cologne Group
2012Giorgio Morandi No BrasilFundação Iberê Camargo, Porto Alegre Solo
2012Giorgio MorandiMuseo d'Arte di Lugano, Lugano Solo
2012Documenta (13)Documenta, Kassel Group
2012Atelier + KücheMARTa Herford, Herford Group
2012The Small SizeHubertus Melsheimer Kunsthandel, Cologne Group
2012the Allure of the CollectionNMAO National Museum of Art Osaka, Osaka Group
2012Arcadia in Celle: Art for Nature and Nature for ArtFondation Maeght, Saint-Paul Group
2012The Avant-garde. From Picasso To PollockPeggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice Group
2011Morandi: Still LifeRobilant + Voena, London Solo
2011Giorgio MorandiGalleria Frediano Farsetti, Florence Solo
2011Giorgio Morandi: Tres acuarelas y doce aguafuertesMuseo de Arte Abstracto Español, Cuenca Solo
2011Le ragioni della formaGalleria d'Arte Maggiore, Bologna Solo
2011SilenziMuseo Fortuny, Venice Solo
2011Giorgio Morandi: Tres acuarelas y doce aguafuertesFundación Juan March, Madrid Solo
2011attorno a un'opera di Giorgio MorandiGalleria Torbandena, Trieste Solo
2011About a PaintingGalleria Torbandena, Trieste Solo
2011Segni del NovecentoCerruti Arte, Genoa Group
2011Giorgio Morandi und Christina von BitterKunsthaus Kaufbeuren, Kaufbeuren Group
2011Still LivesCrane Kalman Gallery, London Group
2011Sara Hildén Foundation CollectionSara Hildén Art Museum, Tampere Group
201125 Years Hubertus Melsheimer Art TradeHubertus Melsheimer Kunsthandel, Cologne Group
2011Drawing and its DoubleThe Drawing Center, New York City, NY Group
2011From Morandi to GuttusoEstorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, London Group
2010Giorgio Morandi: tres acuarelas y doce aguafuertesMuseu d´Art Espanyol Contemporani Solo
2010De Chirico and his contemporariesTornabuoni Arte, Florence Group
2010Long Long GoneLeo Koenig Inc., New York City, NY Group
2010MastergraphicsHubertus Melsheimer Kunsthandel, Cologne Group
2009EtchingsHubertus Melsheimer Kunsthandel, Cologne Solo
2009Morandi. L'arte dell'incisionePalazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara, FE Solo
2009Morandi: Master of Modern Still LifeThe Phillips Collection, Washington, DC Solo
2008Giorgio MorandiThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY Solo
2006Secondo MorandiMuseo Morandi, Bologna Solo
2005Giorgio Morandi y la naturaleza muerta en ItaliaMuseo Nacional de Artes Visuales, Montevideo Solo
2004Giorgio MorandiLucas Schoormans Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
2004Giorgio MorandiGalería Leandro Navarro, Madrid Solo
2003Giorgio MorandiJ&P Fine Art, Zurich Solo
2002Giorgio Morandi: pintura e obras sobre papel de 1914 a 1963Fundação Arpad Szenes, Lisbon Solo
2001Giorgio MorandiTate Modern, London Solo
2001Giorgio MorandiMuseo d`Arte di Nuoro, Nuoro Solo
2001I fotografi e MorandiMuseo Morandi, Bologna Solo
2000I Morandi della Collezione GiovanardiMuseo Morandi, Bologna Solo
2000Giorgio MorandiGalleria Civica d´Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin Solo
1999MorandiDean Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland Solo
1999Morandi. A retrospective exhibitionMuseo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid Solo
1998Giorgio MorandiGalleria Goethe, Bolzano Solo
1998Morandi ultimoGalleria dello Scudo, Verona Solo
1997Giorgio MorandiGalleria dello Scudo, Verona Solo
1996Expressive AusdrucksformenStadtgalerie Klagenfurt, Klagenfurt Solo
1996Giorgio MorandiFondation Dina Vierny, Paris Solo
1995Giorgio MorandiKunsthal Rotterdam, Rotterdam Solo
1992Giorgio Morandi: peintures et aquarellesGalerie Claude Bernard, Paris Solo
1990Giorgio MorandiK20 Grabbeplatz, Dusseldorf Solo
1990Giorgio MorandiMie Prefectural Art Museum, Tsu City Solo
1989Giorgio MorandiThe Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura, Kamakura Solo
1988Giorgio MorandiSara Hildén Art Museum, Tampere Solo
1985Giorgio MorandiMusée Cantini, Marseille Solo
1982Giorgio MorandiNassauischer Kunstverein, Wiesbaden Solo
1982Giorgio MorandiDes Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA Solo
1981Giorgio MorandiSolomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, NY Solo
1981Giorgio MorandiSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CASolo
1981Giorgio Morandi: Ölbilder, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, RadierungenHaus der Kunst München, Munich Solo
1980Morandi etchingsThe Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin Solo
1973Giorgio MorandiGalleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna (GNAM) , Rome Solo
1972Giorgio MorandiStedelijk Museum CS, Amsterdam Solo
1968Giorgio MorandiGalleria de' Foscherari, Bologna Solo
1968Morandi EtchingsUniversity Avenue, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON Solo
1965Giorgio MorandiKunsthalle Bern, Bern Solo
1964Giorgio Morandi Gemälde, Aquarelle, DruckgraphikStädtisches Kunsthaus Bielefeld, Bielefeld Solo
1962MorandiStaedtische Galerie Haus Seel, Siegen Solo
1954Giorgio MorandiGemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague Solo
1952Giorgio MorandiGalleria del Cavallino, Venice Solo
1948Giorgio MorandiGalleria del Cavallino, Venice Solo
1944Giorgio Morandi. opere della collezione CardazzoGalleria del Cavallino, Venice Solo
1943Giorgio MorandiGalleria del Cavallino, Venice Solo