The Master of Still-Life: Giorgio Morandi at The Estorick Collection
Our take on Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation, showing now at The Esoterick Collection
February 17, 2023

‘He didn’t like talking about his art. Or much in general,’ says Carlo, a volunteer at the Estorick Collection. He’s gesturing towards a photograph of Giorgio Morandi, one of 20th century Italy’s best known artists. 

A relative recluse, often referred to as ‘The Monk’, Morandi remained single, practising from the same house shared with his mother and sisters in Bologna. Influenced by Impressionism, his landscapes were painted not en plein air, but through binoculars; indeed, he wouldn’t travel to Paris until 1956, and scarcely left his bedroom-studio - save for summer holidays in Grizanna, renamed Grizanna Morandi in his honour in 1985.

Take this hint at how well-loved and loving the artist was from Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation. Not detached, but well-connected and privileged, Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) came of age amidst a new wave of Italian art historians seeking to relaunch – and politically instrumentalise – art. Roberto Longhi ‘launched Morandi’ into the sphere of intellectual art, drawing on theories of formalism, conceptualism, and metaphysical art. Fellow artist Ardengo Soffico exhibited his etchings, and di Chirico wrote his captions.

Still Life with Bread Basket (1941)

Masterpieces focuses on another relationship, that with his closest collector and patron, Luigi Magnani. Two galleries, taken from the dairy magnate’s private collection in Palma, are here displayed for the first time in the UK, adding to the Estorick’s permanent collection of Morandi on paper. Its curation – chronological, covering all media and subjects – reflects Magnani’s efforts to recreate the career of the artist. But even more, it’s an ‘act of love’, a warm testament to their friendship.

Morandi already had three Venice Biennales and four international exhibitions under his belt before their chance meeting in 1940, and in all senses he was in control. He chose the frames (all originals in the exhibition’s second room, of paintings), represented himself in the market, and would enquire of his patrons where they’d put their paintings. In his single commissioned work, he squashes Magnani’s menial subject of choice, a lute, face down on the table, with a broken toy guitar.

Still, clean, white walls aside, Masterpieces is rather warm and intimately curated. Archive letters, photographs, and the very first etchings (of flowers) given and dedicated ‘to Gino’ betray any sense of coldness. At sixteen years his junior, Magnani lent into this hierarchical relationship, portraying himself as ‘the novice approaching the master’.

Zinnias in a Vase (1932)

Upstairs, in Gallery 4, the institution’s eponymous Eric Estorick writes warmly of his first meeting with Morandi in 1950, the ‘most approachable person’. It helped that the artist gifted him a proof of his very first etching, ‘The Bridge over the Savena in Bologna’ (1912), which remains in the Estorick’s permanent collection today. 

Indeed, the permanent collection provides much of the context to the temporary exhibition; his practice exemplified by an ‘extreme simplicity of line’, and ‘extraordinary economy of means’. Otherwise, Masterpieces captions are as minimal as his practice; take the Saturday morning tours for more welcome, accessible information.

There is but one (rare) self-portrait – no matter, for the curation mirrors the artist’s own perception of his practice. Remembered for his paintings, he considered himself first and foremost an etcher and printmaker, works which saturate the first gallery. Here we see Morandi the Meticulous, eschewing the spontaneity of those like Rembrandt, working with great precision and planning, an embodiment of the Vasarian concept of disegno (drawing, draughtsmanship, and design). Self-taught, all his geekery would put him into good stead, going on to hold the Chair in Printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna.

Still Life with Pears and Grapes (1927)

His still lifes from the 1920s start off as direct copies of his ‘declared idols’ like Paul Cezanne, though by the 1940s, he combined his own contemporary influences. One, shot with straight line - ‘very Van Gogh’ - separates the midtone colours, to create a new work of postmodernism. By his late years, landscapes and still lifes become wholly ‘interchangeable’; the buildings of ‘The Courtyard on Via Fondazza’ (1954) lined up like bottles and vases.

Still Life (detail) (1948)

‘See his still lifes. They are all grounded, never floating,’ admires Carlo. His objects are positioned ‘like a chess player’, the paintings all planned out in drawings beneath the surface. But for a man ‘as enigmatically neutral as his bottles,’ we never get the sense of an artist who is dull, or square. 

His still lifes are ‘odd’ scenes, where vases, jugs, and jars gather ‘conspiratorially’. Here, context matters, but is sadly absent. Morandi used modernism to resist the ‘oppression’ of Italian Renaissance art, and the predominance of fifteenth-century primitivism. His resistance turned political in 1943, when he was imprisoned for a week due to his proximity to the Partisans, Italy’s anti-fascist movement during World War II.

Still Life (1953)

Morandi still continued to exhibit with artists who associated with the Novocento School and futurism; neither officially sanctioned as ‘Fascist art’, but both putting visual form to Mussolini’s totalitarian ideas. We see these complex contradictions play out in his still lifes; objects of softened lines, which seem less certain and clean-cut. 

No, Giorgio Morandi did not ‘make the still life a 20th century art form’. At most, he used the form to grapple with the politics of his time. Masterpieces shines a soft light onto such questions, but one which urges us to peel back the layers of paint and pencil and see what lies beneath their still surfaces. 

Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation is on show at the Estorick Collection until 28 May 2023.

Make sure to collect your Yamos on the gowithYamo app when you visit!

Jelena Sofronijevic
17/02/2023
Spotlight
Jelena Sofronijevic
The Master of Still-Life: Giorgio Morandi at The Estorick Collection
Written by
Jelena Sofronijevic
Date Pulblished
17/02/2023
Estorick Collection
Giorgio Morandi
Our take on Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation, showing now at The Esoterick Collection

‘He didn’t like talking about his art. Or much in general,’ says Carlo, a volunteer at the Estorick Collection. He’s gesturing towards a photograph of Giorgio Morandi, one of 20th century Italy’s best known artists. 

A relative recluse, often referred to as ‘The Monk’, Morandi remained single, practising from the same house shared with his mother and sisters in Bologna. Influenced by Impressionism, his landscapes were painted not en plein air, but through binoculars; indeed, he wouldn’t travel to Paris until 1956, and scarcely left his bedroom-studio - save for summer holidays in Grizanna, renamed Grizanna Morandi in his honour in 1985.

Take this hint at how well-loved and loving the artist was from Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation. Not detached, but well-connected and privileged, Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) came of age amidst a new wave of Italian art historians seeking to relaunch – and politically instrumentalise – art. Roberto Longhi ‘launched Morandi’ into the sphere of intellectual art, drawing on theories of formalism, conceptualism, and metaphysical art. Fellow artist Ardengo Soffico exhibited his etchings, and di Chirico wrote his captions.

Still Life with Bread Basket (1941)

Masterpieces focuses on another relationship, that with his closest collector and patron, Luigi Magnani. Two galleries, taken from the dairy magnate’s private collection in Palma, are here displayed for the first time in the UK, adding to the Estorick’s permanent collection of Morandi on paper. Its curation – chronological, covering all media and subjects – reflects Magnani’s efforts to recreate the career of the artist. But even more, it’s an ‘act of love’, a warm testament to their friendship.

Morandi already had three Venice Biennales and four international exhibitions under his belt before their chance meeting in 1940, and in all senses he was in control. He chose the frames (all originals in the exhibition’s second room, of paintings), represented himself in the market, and would enquire of his patrons where they’d put their paintings. In his single commissioned work, he squashes Magnani’s menial subject of choice, a lute, face down on the table, with a broken toy guitar.

Still, clean, white walls aside, Masterpieces is rather warm and intimately curated. Archive letters, photographs, and the very first etchings (of flowers) given and dedicated ‘to Gino’ betray any sense of coldness. At sixteen years his junior, Magnani lent into this hierarchical relationship, portraying himself as ‘the novice approaching the master’.

Zinnias in a Vase (1932)

Upstairs, in Gallery 4, the institution’s eponymous Eric Estorick writes warmly of his first meeting with Morandi in 1950, the ‘most approachable person’. It helped that the artist gifted him a proof of his very first etching, ‘The Bridge over the Savena in Bologna’ (1912), which remains in the Estorick’s permanent collection today. 

Indeed, the permanent collection provides much of the context to the temporary exhibition; his practice exemplified by an ‘extreme simplicity of line’, and ‘extraordinary economy of means’. Otherwise, Masterpieces captions are as minimal as his practice; take the Saturday morning tours for more welcome, accessible information.

There is but one (rare) self-portrait – no matter, for the curation mirrors the artist’s own perception of his practice. Remembered for his paintings, he considered himself first and foremost an etcher and printmaker, works which saturate the first gallery. Here we see Morandi the Meticulous, eschewing the spontaneity of those like Rembrandt, working with great precision and planning, an embodiment of the Vasarian concept of disegno (drawing, draughtsmanship, and design). Self-taught, all his geekery would put him into good stead, going on to hold the Chair in Printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna.

Still Life with Pears and Grapes (1927)

His still lifes from the 1920s start off as direct copies of his ‘declared idols’ like Paul Cezanne, though by the 1940s, he combined his own contemporary influences. One, shot with straight line - ‘very Van Gogh’ - separates the midtone colours, to create a new work of postmodernism. By his late years, landscapes and still lifes become wholly ‘interchangeable’; the buildings of ‘The Courtyard on Via Fondazza’ (1954) lined up like bottles and vases.

Still Life (detail) (1948)

‘See his still lifes. They are all grounded, never floating,’ admires Carlo. His objects are positioned ‘like a chess player’, the paintings all planned out in drawings beneath the surface. But for a man ‘as enigmatically neutral as his bottles,’ we never get the sense of an artist who is dull, or square. 

His still lifes are ‘odd’ scenes, where vases, jugs, and jars gather ‘conspiratorially’. Here, context matters, but is sadly absent. Morandi used modernism to resist the ‘oppression’ of Italian Renaissance art, and the predominance of fifteenth-century primitivism. His resistance turned political in 1943, when he was imprisoned for a week due to his proximity to the Partisans, Italy’s anti-fascist movement during World War II.

Still Life (1953)

Morandi still continued to exhibit with artists who associated with the Novocento School and futurism; neither officially sanctioned as ‘Fascist art’, but both putting visual form to Mussolini’s totalitarian ideas. We see these complex contradictions play out in his still lifes; objects of softened lines, which seem less certain and clean-cut. 

No, Giorgio Morandi did not ‘make the still life a 20th century art form’. At most, he used the form to grapple with the politics of his time. Masterpieces shines a soft light onto such questions, but one which urges us to peel back the layers of paint and pencil and see what lies beneath their still surfaces. 

Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation is on show at the Estorick Collection until 28 May 2023.

Make sure to collect your Yamos on the gowithYamo app when you visit!

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
The Master of Still-Life: Giorgio Morandi at The Estorick Collection
Spotlight
Jelena Sofronijevic
Written by
Jelena Sofronijevic
Date Published
17/02/2023
Estorick Collection
Giorgio Morandi
Our take on Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation, showing now at The Esoterick Collection

‘He didn’t like talking about his art. Or much in general,’ says Carlo, a volunteer at the Estorick Collection. He’s gesturing towards a photograph of Giorgio Morandi, one of 20th century Italy’s best known artists. 

A relative recluse, often referred to as ‘The Monk’, Morandi remained single, practising from the same house shared with his mother and sisters in Bologna. Influenced by Impressionism, his landscapes were painted not en plein air, but through binoculars; indeed, he wouldn’t travel to Paris until 1956, and scarcely left his bedroom-studio - save for summer holidays in Grizanna, renamed Grizanna Morandi in his honour in 1985.

Take this hint at how well-loved and loving the artist was from Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation. Not detached, but well-connected and privileged, Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) came of age amidst a new wave of Italian art historians seeking to relaunch – and politically instrumentalise – art. Roberto Longhi ‘launched Morandi’ into the sphere of intellectual art, drawing on theories of formalism, conceptualism, and metaphysical art. Fellow artist Ardengo Soffico exhibited his etchings, and di Chirico wrote his captions.

Still Life with Bread Basket (1941)

Masterpieces focuses on another relationship, that with his closest collector and patron, Luigi Magnani. Two galleries, taken from the dairy magnate’s private collection in Palma, are here displayed for the first time in the UK, adding to the Estorick’s permanent collection of Morandi on paper. Its curation – chronological, covering all media and subjects – reflects Magnani’s efforts to recreate the career of the artist. But even more, it’s an ‘act of love’, a warm testament to their friendship.

Morandi already had three Venice Biennales and four international exhibitions under his belt before their chance meeting in 1940, and in all senses he was in control. He chose the frames (all originals in the exhibition’s second room, of paintings), represented himself in the market, and would enquire of his patrons where they’d put their paintings. In his single commissioned work, he squashes Magnani’s menial subject of choice, a lute, face down on the table, with a broken toy guitar.

Still, clean, white walls aside, Masterpieces is rather warm and intimately curated. Archive letters, photographs, and the very first etchings (of flowers) given and dedicated ‘to Gino’ betray any sense of coldness. At sixteen years his junior, Magnani lent into this hierarchical relationship, portraying himself as ‘the novice approaching the master’.

Zinnias in a Vase (1932)

Upstairs, in Gallery 4, the institution’s eponymous Eric Estorick writes warmly of his first meeting with Morandi in 1950, the ‘most approachable person’. It helped that the artist gifted him a proof of his very first etching, ‘The Bridge over the Savena in Bologna’ (1912), which remains in the Estorick’s permanent collection today. 

Indeed, the permanent collection provides much of the context to the temporary exhibition; his practice exemplified by an ‘extreme simplicity of line’, and ‘extraordinary economy of means’. Otherwise, Masterpieces captions are as minimal as his practice; take the Saturday morning tours for more welcome, accessible information.

There is but one (rare) self-portrait – no matter, for the curation mirrors the artist’s own perception of his practice. Remembered for his paintings, he considered himself first and foremost an etcher and printmaker, works which saturate the first gallery. Here we see Morandi the Meticulous, eschewing the spontaneity of those like Rembrandt, working with great precision and planning, an embodiment of the Vasarian concept of disegno (drawing, draughtsmanship, and design). Self-taught, all his geekery would put him into good stead, going on to hold the Chair in Printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna.

Still Life with Pears and Grapes (1927)

His still lifes from the 1920s start off as direct copies of his ‘declared idols’ like Paul Cezanne, though by the 1940s, he combined his own contemporary influences. One, shot with straight line - ‘very Van Gogh’ - separates the midtone colours, to create a new work of postmodernism. By his late years, landscapes and still lifes become wholly ‘interchangeable’; the buildings of ‘The Courtyard on Via Fondazza’ (1954) lined up like bottles and vases.

Still Life (detail) (1948)

‘See his still lifes. They are all grounded, never floating,’ admires Carlo. His objects are positioned ‘like a chess player’, the paintings all planned out in drawings beneath the surface. But for a man ‘as enigmatically neutral as his bottles,’ we never get the sense of an artist who is dull, or square. 

His still lifes are ‘odd’ scenes, where vases, jugs, and jars gather ‘conspiratorially’. Here, context matters, but is sadly absent. Morandi used modernism to resist the ‘oppression’ of Italian Renaissance art, and the predominance of fifteenth-century primitivism. His resistance turned political in 1943, when he was imprisoned for a week due to his proximity to the Partisans, Italy’s anti-fascist movement during World War II.

Still Life (1953)

Morandi still continued to exhibit with artists who associated with the Novocento School and futurism; neither officially sanctioned as ‘Fascist art’, but both putting visual form to Mussolini’s totalitarian ideas. We see these complex contradictions play out in his still lifes; objects of softened lines, which seem less certain and clean-cut. 

No, Giorgio Morandi did not ‘make the still life a 20th century art form’. At most, he used the form to grapple with the politics of his time. Masterpieces shines a soft light onto such questions, but one which urges us to peel back the layers of paint and pencil and see what lies beneath their still surfaces. 

Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation is on show at the Estorick Collection until 28 May 2023.

Make sure to collect your Yamos on the gowithYamo app when you visit!

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
17/02/2023
Spotlight
Jelena Sofronijevic
The Master of Still-Life: Giorgio Morandi at The Estorick Collection
Written by
Jelena Sofronijevic
Date Pulblished
17/02/2023
Estorick Collection
Giorgio Morandi
Our take on Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation, showing now at The Esoterick Collection

‘He didn’t like talking about his art. Or much in general,’ says Carlo, a volunteer at the Estorick Collection. He’s gesturing towards a photograph of Giorgio Morandi, one of 20th century Italy’s best known artists. 

A relative recluse, often referred to as ‘The Monk’, Morandi remained single, practising from the same house shared with his mother and sisters in Bologna. Influenced by Impressionism, his landscapes were painted not en plein air, but through binoculars; indeed, he wouldn’t travel to Paris until 1956, and scarcely left his bedroom-studio - save for summer holidays in Grizanna, renamed Grizanna Morandi in his honour in 1985.

Take this hint at how well-loved and loving the artist was from Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation. Not detached, but well-connected and privileged, Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) came of age amidst a new wave of Italian art historians seeking to relaunch – and politically instrumentalise – art. Roberto Longhi ‘launched Morandi’ into the sphere of intellectual art, drawing on theories of formalism, conceptualism, and metaphysical art. Fellow artist Ardengo Soffico exhibited his etchings, and di Chirico wrote his captions.

Still Life with Bread Basket (1941)

Masterpieces focuses on another relationship, that with his closest collector and patron, Luigi Magnani. Two galleries, taken from the dairy magnate’s private collection in Palma, are here displayed for the first time in the UK, adding to the Estorick’s permanent collection of Morandi on paper. Its curation – chronological, covering all media and subjects – reflects Magnani’s efforts to recreate the career of the artist. But even more, it’s an ‘act of love’, a warm testament to their friendship.

Morandi already had three Venice Biennales and four international exhibitions under his belt before their chance meeting in 1940, and in all senses he was in control. He chose the frames (all originals in the exhibition’s second room, of paintings), represented himself in the market, and would enquire of his patrons where they’d put their paintings. In his single commissioned work, he squashes Magnani’s menial subject of choice, a lute, face down on the table, with a broken toy guitar.

Still, clean, white walls aside, Masterpieces is rather warm and intimately curated. Archive letters, photographs, and the very first etchings (of flowers) given and dedicated ‘to Gino’ betray any sense of coldness. At sixteen years his junior, Magnani lent into this hierarchical relationship, portraying himself as ‘the novice approaching the master’.

Zinnias in a Vase (1932)

Upstairs, in Gallery 4, the institution’s eponymous Eric Estorick writes warmly of his first meeting with Morandi in 1950, the ‘most approachable person’. It helped that the artist gifted him a proof of his very first etching, ‘The Bridge over the Savena in Bologna’ (1912), which remains in the Estorick’s permanent collection today. 

Indeed, the permanent collection provides much of the context to the temporary exhibition; his practice exemplified by an ‘extreme simplicity of line’, and ‘extraordinary economy of means’. Otherwise, Masterpieces captions are as minimal as his practice; take the Saturday morning tours for more welcome, accessible information.

There is but one (rare) self-portrait – no matter, for the curation mirrors the artist’s own perception of his practice. Remembered for his paintings, he considered himself first and foremost an etcher and printmaker, works which saturate the first gallery. Here we see Morandi the Meticulous, eschewing the spontaneity of those like Rembrandt, working with great precision and planning, an embodiment of the Vasarian concept of disegno (drawing, draughtsmanship, and design). Self-taught, all his geekery would put him into good stead, going on to hold the Chair in Printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna.

Still Life with Pears and Grapes (1927)

His still lifes from the 1920s start off as direct copies of his ‘declared idols’ like Paul Cezanne, though by the 1940s, he combined his own contemporary influences. One, shot with straight line - ‘very Van Gogh’ - separates the midtone colours, to create a new work of postmodernism. By his late years, landscapes and still lifes become wholly ‘interchangeable’; the buildings of ‘The Courtyard on Via Fondazza’ (1954) lined up like bottles and vases.

Still Life (detail) (1948)

‘See his still lifes. They are all grounded, never floating,’ admires Carlo. His objects are positioned ‘like a chess player’, the paintings all planned out in drawings beneath the surface. But for a man ‘as enigmatically neutral as his bottles,’ we never get the sense of an artist who is dull, or square. 

His still lifes are ‘odd’ scenes, where vases, jugs, and jars gather ‘conspiratorially’. Here, context matters, but is sadly absent. Morandi used modernism to resist the ‘oppression’ of Italian Renaissance art, and the predominance of fifteenth-century primitivism. His resistance turned political in 1943, when he was imprisoned for a week due to his proximity to the Partisans, Italy’s anti-fascist movement during World War II.

Still Life (1953)

Morandi still continued to exhibit with artists who associated with the Novocento School and futurism; neither officially sanctioned as ‘Fascist art’, but both putting visual form to Mussolini’s totalitarian ideas. We see these complex contradictions play out in his still lifes; objects of softened lines, which seem less certain and clean-cut. 

No, Giorgio Morandi did not ‘make the still life a 20th century art form’. At most, he used the form to grapple with the politics of his time. Masterpieces shines a soft light onto such questions, but one which urges us to peel back the layers of paint and pencil and see what lies beneath their still surfaces. 

Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation is on show at the Estorick Collection until 28 May 2023.

Make sure to collect your Yamos on the gowithYamo app when you visit!

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
17/02/2023
Spotlight
Jelena Sofronijevic
The Master of Still-Life: Giorgio Morandi at The Estorick Collection
Written by
Jelena Sofronijevic
Date Pulblished
17/02/2023
Estorick Collection
Giorgio Morandi
Our take on Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation, showing now at The Esoterick Collection

‘He didn’t like talking about his art. Or much in general,’ says Carlo, a volunteer at the Estorick Collection. He’s gesturing towards a photograph of Giorgio Morandi, one of 20th century Italy’s best known artists. 

A relative recluse, often referred to as ‘The Monk’, Morandi remained single, practising from the same house shared with his mother and sisters in Bologna. Influenced by Impressionism, his landscapes were painted not en plein air, but through binoculars; indeed, he wouldn’t travel to Paris until 1956, and scarcely left his bedroom-studio - save for summer holidays in Grizanna, renamed Grizanna Morandi in his honour in 1985.

Take this hint at how well-loved and loving the artist was from Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation. Not detached, but well-connected and privileged, Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) came of age amidst a new wave of Italian art historians seeking to relaunch – and politically instrumentalise – art. Roberto Longhi ‘launched Morandi’ into the sphere of intellectual art, drawing on theories of formalism, conceptualism, and metaphysical art. Fellow artist Ardengo Soffico exhibited his etchings, and di Chirico wrote his captions.

Still Life with Bread Basket (1941)

Masterpieces focuses on another relationship, that with his closest collector and patron, Luigi Magnani. Two galleries, taken from the dairy magnate’s private collection in Palma, are here displayed for the first time in the UK, adding to the Estorick’s permanent collection of Morandi on paper. Its curation – chronological, covering all media and subjects – reflects Magnani’s efforts to recreate the career of the artist. But even more, it’s an ‘act of love’, a warm testament to their friendship.

Morandi already had three Venice Biennales and four international exhibitions under his belt before their chance meeting in 1940, and in all senses he was in control. He chose the frames (all originals in the exhibition’s second room, of paintings), represented himself in the market, and would enquire of his patrons where they’d put their paintings. In his single commissioned work, he squashes Magnani’s menial subject of choice, a lute, face down on the table, with a broken toy guitar.

Still, clean, white walls aside, Masterpieces is rather warm and intimately curated. Archive letters, photographs, and the very first etchings (of flowers) given and dedicated ‘to Gino’ betray any sense of coldness. At sixteen years his junior, Magnani lent into this hierarchical relationship, portraying himself as ‘the novice approaching the master’.

Zinnias in a Vase (1932)

Upstairs, in Gallery 4, the institution’s eponymous Eric Estorick writes warmly of his first meeting with Morandi in 1950, the ‘most approachable person’. It helped that the artist gifted him a proof of his very first etching, ‘The Bridge over the Savena in Bologna’ (1912), which remains in the Estorick’s permanent collection today. 

Indeed, the permanent collection provides much of the context to the temporary exhibition; his practice exemplified by an ‘extreme simplicity of line’, and ‘extraordinary economy of means’. Otherwise, Masterpieces captions are as minimal as his practice; take the Saturday morning tours for more welcome, accessible information.

There is but one (rare) self-portrait – no matter, for the curation mirrors the artist’s own perception of his practice. Remembered for his paintings, he considered himself first and foremost an etcher and printmaker, works which saturate the first gallery. Here we see Morandi the Meticulous, eschewing the spontaneity of those like Rembrandt, working with great precision and planning, an embodiment of the Vasarian concept of disegno (drawing, draughtsmanship, and design). Self-taught, all his geekery would put him into good stead, going on to hold the Chair in Printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna.

Still Life with Pears and Grapes (1927)

His still lifes from the 1920s start off as direct copies of his ‘declared idols’ like Paul Cezanne, though by the 1940s, he combined his own contemporary influences. One, shot with straight line - ‘very Van Gogh’ - separates the midtone colours, to create a new work of postmodernism. By his late years, landscapes and still lifes become wholly ‘interchangeable’; the buildings of ‘The Courtyard on Via Fondazza’ (1954) lined up like bottles and vases.

Still Life (detail) (1948)

‘See his still lifes. They are all grounded, never floating,’ admires Carlo. His objects are positioned ‘like a chess player’, the paintings all planned out in drawings beneath the surface. But for a man ‘as enigmatically neutral as his bottles,’ we never get the sense of an artist who is dull, or square. 

His still lifes are ‘odd’ scenes, where vases, jugs, and jars gather ‘conspiratorially’. Here, context matters, but is sadly absent. Morandi used modernism to resist the ‘oppression’ of Italian Renaissance art, and the predominance of fifteenth-century primitivism. His resistance turned political in 1943, when he was imprisoned for a week due to his proximity to the Partisans, Italy’s anti-fascist movement during World War II.

Still Life (1953)

Morandi still continued to exhibit with artists who associated with the Novocento School and futurism; neither officially sanctioned as ‘Fascist art’, but both putting visual form to Mussolini’s totalitarian ideas. We see these complex contradictions play out in his still lifes; objects of softened lines, which seem less certain and clean-cut. 

No, Giorgio Morandi did not ‘make the still life a 20th century art form’. At most, he used the form to grapple with the politics of his time. Masterpieces shines a soft light onto such questions, but one which urges us to peel back the layers of paint and pencil and see what lies beneath their still surfaces. 

Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation is on show at the Estorick Collection until 28 May 2023.

Make sure to collect your Yamos on the gowithYamo app when you visit!

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
17/02/2023
Spotlight
Jelena Sofronijevic
The Master of Still-Life: Giorgio Morandi at The Estorick Collection
Written by
Jelena Sofronijevic
Date Pulblished
17/02/2023
Estorick Collection
Giorgio Morandi
Our take on Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation, showing now at The Esoterick Collection

‘He didn’t like talking about his art. Or much in general,’ says Carlo, a volunteer at the Estorick Collection. He’s gesturing towards a photograph of Giorgio Morandi, one of 20th century Italy’s best known artists. 

A relative recluse, often referred to as ‘The Monk’, Morandi remained single, practising from the same house shared with his mother and sisters in Bologna. Influenced by Impressionism, his landscapes were painted not en plein air, but through binoculars; indeed, he wouldn’t travel to Paris until 1956, and scarcely left his bedroom-studio - save for summer holidays in Grizanna, renamed Grizanna Morandi in his honour in 1985.

Take this hint at how well-loved and loving the artist was from Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation. Not detached, but well-connected and privileged, Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) came of age amidst a new wave of Italian art historians seeking to relaunch – and politically instrumentalise – art. Roberto Longhi ‘launched Morandi’ into the sphere of intellectual art, drawing on theories of formalism, conceptualism, and metaphysical art. Fellow artist Ardengo Soffico exhibited his etchings, and di Chirico wrote his captions.

Still Life with Bread Basket (1941)

Masterpieces focuses on another relationship, that with his closest collector and patron, Luigi Magnani. Two galleries, taken from the dairy magnate’s private collection in Palma, are here displayed for the first time in the UK, adding to the Estorick’s permanent collection of Morandi on paper. Its curation – chronological, covering all media and subjects – reflects Magnani’s efforts to recreate the career of the artist. But even more, it’s an ‘act of love’, a warm testament to their friendship.

Morandi already had three Venice Biennales and four international exhibitions under his belt before their chance meeting in 1940, and in all senses he was in control. He chose the frames (all originals in the exhibition’s second room, of paintings), represented himself in the market, and would enquire of his patrons where they’d put their paintings. In his single commissioned work, he squashes Magnani’s menial subject of choice, a lute, face down on the table, with a broken toy guitar.

Still, clean, white walls aside, Masterpieces is rather warm and intimately curated. Archive letters, photographs, and the very first etchings (of flowers) given and dedicated ‘to Gino’ betray any sense of coldness. At sixteen years his junior, Magnani lent into this hierarchical relationship, portraying himself as ‘the novice approaching the master’.

Zinnias in a Vase (1932)

Upstairs, in Gallery 4, the institution’s eponymous Eric Estorick writes warmly of his first meeting with Morandi in 1950, the ‘most approachable person’. It helped that the artist gifted him a proof of his very first etching, ‘The Bridge over the Savena in Bologna’ (1912), which remains in the Estorick’s permanent collection today. 

Indeed, the permanent collection provides much of the context to the temporary exhibition; his practice exemplified by an ‘extreme simplicity of line’, and ‘extraordinary economy of means’. Otherwise, Masterpieces captions are as minimal as his practice; take the Saturday morning tours for more welcome, accessible information.

There is but one (rare) self-portrait – no matter, for the curation mirrors the artist’s own perception of his practice. Remembered for his paintings, he considered himself first and foremost an etcher and printmaker, works which saturate the first gallery. Here we see Morandi the Meticulous, eschewing the spontaneity of those like Rembrandt, working with great precision and planning, an embodiment of the Vasarian concept of disegno (drawing, draughtsmanship, and design). Self-taught, all his geekery would put him into good stead, going on to hold the Chair in Printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna.

Still Life with Pears and Grapes (1927)

His still lifes from the 1920s start off as direct copies of his ‘declared idols’ like Paul Cezanne, though by the 1940s, he combined his own contemporary influences. One, shot with straight line - ‘very Van Gogh’ - separates the midtone colours, to create a new work of postmodernism. By his late years, landscapes and still lifes become wholly ‘interchangeable’; the buildings of ‘The Courtyard on Via Fondazza’ (1954) lined up like bottles and vases.

Still Life (detail) (1948)

‘See his still lifes. They are all grounded, never floating,’ admires Carlo. His objects are positioned ‘like a chess player’, the paintings all planned out in drawings beneath the surface. But for a man ‘as enigmatically neutral as his bottles,’ we never get the sense of an artist who is dull, or square. 

His still lifes are ‘odd’ scenes, where vases, jugs, and jars gather ‘conspiratorially’. Here, context matters, but is sadly absent. Morandi used modernism to resist the ‘oppression’ of Italian Renaissance art, and the predominance of fifteenth-century primitivism. His resistance turned political in 1943, when he was imprisoned for a week due to his proximity to the Partisans, Italy’s anti-fascist movement during World War II.

Still Life (1953)

Morandi still continued to exhibit with artists who associated with the Novocento School and futurism; neither officially sanctioned as ‘Fascist art’, but both putting visual form to Mussolini’s totalitarian ideas. We see these complex contradictions play out in his still lifes; objects of softened lines, which seem less certain and clean-cut. 

No, Giorgio Morandi did not ‘make the still life a 20th century art form’. At most, he used the form to grapple with the politics of his time. Masterpieces shines a soft light onto such questions, but one which urges us to peel back the layers of paint and pencil and see what lies beneath their still surfaces. 

Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation is on show at the Estorick Collection until 28 May 2023.

Make sure to collect your Yamos on the gowithYamo app when you visit!

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
Written by
Jelena Sofronijevic
Date Pulblished
17/02/2023
Estorick Collection
Giorgio Morandi
17/02/2023
Spotlight
Jelena Sofronijevic
The Master of Still-Life: Giorgio Morandi at The Estorick Collection

‘He didn’t like talking about his art. Or much in general,’ says Carlo, a volunteer at the Estorick Collection. He’s gesturing towards a photograph of Giorgio Morandi, one of 20th century Italy’s best known artists. 

A relative recluse, often referred to as ‘The Monk’, Morandi remained single, practising from the same house shared with his mother and sisters in Bologna. Influenced by Impressionism, his landscapes were painted not en plein air, but through binoculars; indeed, he wouldn’t travel to Paris until 1956, and scarcely left his bedroom-studio - save for summer holidays in Grizanna, renamed Grizanna Morandi in his honour in 1985.

Take this hint at how well-loved and loving the artist was from Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation. Not detached, but well-connected and privileged, Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) came of age amidst a new wave of Italian art historians seeking to relaunch – and politically instrumentalise – art. Roberto Longhi ‘launched Morandi’ into the sphere of intellectual art, drawing on theories of formalism, conceptualism, and metaphysical art. Fellow artist Ardengo Soffico exhibited his etchings, and di Chirico wrote his captions.

Still Life with Bread Basket (1941)

Masterpieces focuses on another relationship, that with his closest collector and patron, Luigi Magnani. Two galleries, taken from the dairy magnate’s private collection in Palma, are here displayed for the first time in the UK, adding to the Estorick’s permanent collection of Morandi on paper. Its curation – chronological, covering all media and subjects – reflects Magnani’s efforts to recreate the career of the artist. But even more, it’s an ‘act of love’, a warm testament to their friendship.

Morandi already had three Venice Biennales and four international exhibitions under his belt before their chance meeting in 1940, and in all senses he was in control. He chose the frames (all originals in the exhibition’s second room, of paintings), represented himself in the market, and would enquire of his patrons where they’d put their paintings. In his single commissioned work, he squashes Magnani’s menial subject of choice, a lute, face down on the table, with a broken toy guitar.

Still, clean, white walls aside, Masterpieces is rather warm and intimately curated. Archive letters, photographs, and the very first etchings (of flowers) given and dedicated ‘to Gino’ betray any sense of coldness. At sixteen years his junior, Magnani lent into this hierarchical relationship, portraying himself as ‘the novice approaching the master’.

Zinnias in a Vase (1932)

Upstairs, in Gallery 4, the institution’s eponymous Eric Estorick writes warmly of his first meeting with Morandi in 1950, the ‘most approachable person’. It helped that the artist gifted him a proof of his very first etching, ‘The Bridge over the Savena in Bologna’ (1912), which remains in the Estorick’s permanent collection today. 

Indeed, the permanent collection provides much of the context to the temporary exhibition; his practice exemplified by an ‘extreme simplicity of line’, and ‘extraordinary economy of means’. Otherwise, Masterpieces captions are as minimal as his practice; take the Saturday morning tours for more welcome, accessible information.

There is but one (rare) self-portrait – no matter, for the curation mirrors the artist’s own perception of his practice. Remembered for his paintings, he considered himself first and foremost an etcher and printmaker, works which saturate the first gallery. Here we see Morandi the Meticulous, eschewing the spontaneity of those like Rembrandt, working with great precision and planning, an embodiment of the Vasarian concept of disegno (drawing, draughtsmanship, and design). Self-taught, all his geekery would put him into good stead, going on to hold the Chair in Printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna.

Still Life with Pears and Grapes (1927)

His still lifes from the 1920s start off as direct copies of his ‘declared idols’ like Paul Cezanne, though by the 1940s, he combined his own contemporary influences. One, shot with straight line - ‘very Van Gogh’ - separates the midtone colours, to create a new work of postmodernism. By his late years, landscapes and still lifes become wholly ‘interchangeable’; the buildings of ‘The Courtyard on Via Fondazza’ (1954) lined up like bottles and vases.

Still Life (detail) (1948)

‘See his still lifes. They are all grounded, never floating,’ admires Carlo. His objects are positioned ‘like a chess player’, the paintings all planned out in drawings beneath the surface. But for a man ‘as enigmatically neutral as his bottles,’ we never get the sense of an artist who is dull, or square. 

His still lifes are ‘odd’ scenes, where vases, jugs, and jars gather ‘conspiratorially’. Here, context matters, but is sadly absent. Morandi used modernism to resist the ‘oppression’ of Italian Renaissance art, and the predominance of fifteenth-century primitivism. His resistance turned political in 1943, when he was imprisoned for a week due to his proximity to the Partisans, Italy’s anti-fascist movement during World War II.

Still Life (1953)

Morandi still continued to exhibit with artists who associated with the Novocento School and futurism; neither officially sanctioned as ‘Fascist art’, but both putting visual form to Mussolini’s totalitarian ideas. We see these complex contradictions play out in his still lifes; objects of softened lines, which seem less certain and clean-cut. 

No, Giorgio Morandi did not ‘make the still life a 20th century art form’. At most, he used the form to grapple with the politics of his time. Masterpieces shines a soft light onto such questions, but one which urges us to peel back the layers of paint and pencil and see what lies beneath their still surfaces. 

Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation is on show at the Estorick Collection until 28 May 2023.

Make sure to collect your Yamos on the gowithYamo app when you visit!

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
The Master of Still-Life: Giorgio Morandi at The Estorick Collection
17/02/2023
Spotlight
Jelena Sofronijevic
Written by
Jelena Sofronijevic
Date Pulblished
17/02/2023
Estorick Collection
Giorgio Morandi
Our take on Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation, showing now at The Esoterick Collection

‘He didn’t like talking about his art. Or much in general,’ says Carlo, a volunteer at the Estorick Collection. He’s gesturing towards a photograph of Giorgio Morandi, one of 20th century Italy’s best known artists. 

A relative recluse, often referred to as ‘The Monk’, Morandi remained single, practising from the same house shared with his mother and sisters in Bologna. Influenced by Impressionism, his landscapes were painted not en plein air, but through binoculars; indeed, he wouldn’t travel to Paris until 1956, and scarcely left his bedroom-studio - save for summer holidays in Grizanna, renamed Grizanna Morandi in his honour in 1985.

Take this hint at how well-loved and loving the artist was from Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation. Not detached, but well-connected and privileged, Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) came of age amidst a new wave of Italian art historians seeking to relaunch – and politically instrumentalise – art. Roberto Longhi ‘launched Morandi’ into the sphere of intellectual art, drawing on theories of formalism, conceptualism, and metaphysical art. Fellow artist Ardengo Soffico exhibited his etchings, and di Chirico wrote his captions.

Still Life with Bread Basket (1941)

Masterpieces focuses on another relationship, that with his closest collector and patron, Luigi Magnani. Two galleries, taken from the dairy magnate’s private collection in Palma, are here displayed for the first time in the UK, adding to the Estorick’s permanent collection of Morandi on paper. Its curation – chronological, covering all media and subjects – reflects Magnani’s efforts to recreate the career of the artist. But even more, it’s an ‘act of love’, a warm testament to their friendship.

Morandi already had three Venice Biennales and four international exhibitions under his belt before their chance meeting in 1940, and in all senses he was in control. He chose the frames (all originals in the exhibition’s second room, of paintings), represented himself in the market, and would enquire of his patrons where they’d put their paintings. In his single commissioned work, he squashes Magnani’s menial subject of choice, a lute, face down on the table, with a broken toy guitar.

Still, clean, white walls aside, Masterpieces is rather warm and intimately curated. Archive letters, photographs, and the very first etchings (of flowers) given and dedicated ‘to Gino’ betray any sense of coldness. At sixteen years his junior, Magnani lent into this hierarchical relationship, portraying himself as ‘the novice approaching the master’.

Zinnias in a Vase (1932)

Upstairs, in Gallery 4, the institution’s eponymous Eric Estorick writes warmly of his first meeting with Morandi in 1950, the ‘most approachable person’. It helped that the artist gifted him a proof of his very first etching, ‘The Bridge over the Savena in Bologna’ (1912), which remains in the Estorick’s permanent collection today. 

Indeed, the permanent collection provides much of the context to the temporary exhibition; his practice exemplified by an ‘extreme simplicity of line’, and ‘extraordinary economy of means’. Otherwise, Masterpieces captions are as minimal as his practice; take the Saturday morning tours for more welcome, accessible information.

There is but one (rare) self-portrait – no matter, for the curation mirrors the artist’s own perception of his practice. Remembered for his paintings, he considered himself first and foremost an etcher and printmaker, works which saturate the first gallery. Here we see Morandi the Meticulous, eschewing the spontaneity of those like Rembrandt, working with great precision and planning, an embodiment of the Vasarian concept of disegno (drawing, draughtsmanship, and design). Self-taught, all his geekery would put him into good stead, going on to hold the Chair in Printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna.

Still Life with Pears and Grapes (1927)

His still lifes from the 1920s start off as direct copies of his ‘declared idols’ like Paul Cezanne, though by the 1940s, he combined his own contemporary influences. One, shot with straight line - ‘very Van Gogh’ - separates the midtone colours, to create a new work of postmodernism. By his late years, landscapes and still lifes become wholly ‘interchangeable’; the buildings of ‘The Courtyard on Via Fondazza’ (1954) lined up like bottles and vases.

Still Life (detail) (1948)

‘See his still lifes. They are all grounded, never floating,’ admires Carlo. His objects are positioned ‘like a chess player’, the paintings all planned out in drawings beneath the surface. But for a man ‘as enigmatically neutral as his bottles,’ we never get the sense of an artist who is dull, or square. 

His still lifes are ‘odd’ scenes, where vases, jugs, and jars gather ‘conspiratorially’. Here, context matters, but is sadly absent. Morandi used modernism to resist the ‘oppression’ of Italian Renaissance art, and the predominance of fifteenth-century primitivism. His resistance turned political in 1943, when he was imprisoned for a week due to his proximity to the Partisans, Italy’s anti-fascist movement during World War II.

Still Life (1953)

Morandi still continued to exhibit with artists who associated with the Novocento School and futurism; neither officially sanctioned as ‘Fascist art’, but both putting visual form to Mussolini’s totalitarian ideas. We see these complex contradictions play out in his still lifes; objects of softened lines, which seem less certain and clean-cut. 

No, Giorgio Morandi did not ‘make the still life a 20th century art form’. At most, he used the form to grapple with the politics of his time. Masterpieces shines a soft light onto such questions, but one which urges us to peel back the layers of paint and pencil and see what lies beneath their still surfaces. 

Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation is on show at the Estorick Collection until 28 May 2023.

Make sure to collect your Yamos on the gowithYamo app when you visit!

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
The Master of Still-Life: Giorgio Morandi at The Estorick Collection
Written by
Jelena Sofronijevic
Date Pulblished
17/02/2023
Our take on Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation, showing now at The Esoterick Collection
17/02/2023
Spotlight
Jelena Sofronijevic

‘He didn’t like talking about his art. Or much in general,’ says Carlo, a volunteer at the Estorick Collection. He’s gesturing towards a photograph of Giorgio Morandi, one of 20th century Italy’s best known artists. 

A relative recluse, often referred to as ‘The Monk’, Morandi remained single, practising from the same house shared with his mother and sisters in Bologna. Influenced by Impressionism, his landscapes were painted not en plein air, but through binoculars; indeed, he wouldn’t travel to Paris until 1956, and scarcely left his bedroom-studio - save for summer holidays in Grizanna, renamed Grizanna Morandi in his honour in 1985.

Take this hint at how well-loved and loving the artist was from Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation. Not detached, but well-connected and privileged, Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) came of age amidst a new wave of Italian art historians seeking to relaunch – and politically instrumentalise – art. Roberto Longhi ‘launched Morandi’ into the sphere of intellectual art, drawing on theories of formalism, conceptualism, and metaphysical art. Fellow artist Ardengo Soffico exhibited his etchings, and di Chirico wrote his captions.

Still Life with Bread Basket (1941)

Masterpieces focuses on another relationship, that with his closest collector and patron, Luigi Magnani. Two galleries, taken from the dairy magnate’s private collection in Palma, are here displayed for the first time in the UK, adding to the Estorick’s permanent collection of Morandi on paper. Its curation – chronological, covering all media and subjects – reflects Magnani’s efforts to recreate the career of the artist. But even more, it’s an ‘act of love’, a warm testament to their friendship.

Morandi already had three Venice Biennales and four international exhibitions under his belt before their chance meeting in 1940, and in all senses he was in control. He chose the frames (all originals in the exhibition’s second room, of paintings), represented himself in the market, and would enquire of his patrons where they’d put their paintings. In his single commissioned work, he squashes Magnani’s menial subject of choice, a lute, face down on the table, with a broken toy guitar.

Still, clean, white walls aside, Masterpieces is rather warm and intimately curated. Archive letters, photographs, and the very first etchings (of flowers) given and dedicated ‘to Gino’ betray any sense of coldness. At sixteen years his junior, Magnani lent into this hierarchical relationship, portraying himself as ‘the novice approaching the master’.

Zinnias in a Vase (1932)

Upstairs, in Gallery 4, the institution’s eponymous Eric Estorick writes warmly of his first meeting with Morandi in 1950, the ‘most approachable person’. It helped that the artist gifted him a proof of his very first etching, ‘The Bridge over the Savena in Bologna’ (1912), which remains in the Estorick’s permanent collection today. 

Indeed, the permanent collection provides much of the context to the temporary exhibition; his practice exemplified by an ‘extreme simplicity of line’, and ‘extraordinary economy of means’. Otherwise, Masterpieces captions are as minimal as his practice; take the Saturday morning tours for more welcome, accessible information.

There is but one (rare) self-portrait – no matter, for the curation mirrors the artist’s own perception of his practice. Remembered for his paintings, he considered himself first and foremost an etcher and printmaker, works which saturate the first gallery. Here we see Morandi the Meticulous, eschewing the spontaneity of those like Rembrandt, working with great precision and planning, an embodiment of the Vasarian concept of disegno (drawing, draughtsmanship, and design). Self-taught, all his geekery would put him into good stead, going on to hold the Chair in Printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna.

Still Life with Pears and Grapes (1927)

His still lifes from the 1920s start off as direct copies of his ‘declared idols’ like Paul Cezanne, though by the 1940s, he combined his own contemporary influences. One, shot with straight line - ‘very Van Gogh’ - separates the midtone colours, to create a new work of postmodernism. By his late years, landscapes and still lifes become wholly ‘interchangeable’; the buildings of ‘The Courtyard on Via Fondazza’ (1954) lined up like bottles and vases.

Still Life (detail) (1948)

‘See his still lifes. They are all grounded, never floating,’ admires Carlo. His objects are positioned ‘like a chess player’, the paintings all planned out in drawings beneath the surface. But for a man ‘as enigmatically neutral as his bottles,’ we never get the sense of an artist who is dull, or square. 

His still lifes are ‘odd’ scenes, where vases, jugs, and jars gather ‘conspiratorially’. Here, context matters, but is sadly absent. Morandi used modernism to resist the ‘oppression’ of Italian Renaissance art, and the predominance of fifteenth-century primitivism. His resistance turned political in 1943, when he was imprisoned for a week due to his proximity to the Partisans, Italy’s anti-fascist movement during World War II.

Still Life (1953)

Morandi still continued to exhibit with artists who associated with the Novocento School and futurism; neither officially sanctioned as ‘Fascist art’, but both putting visual form to Mussolini’s totalitarian ideas. We see these complex contradictions play out in his still lifes; objects of softened lines, which seem less certain and clean-cut. 

No, Giorgio Morandi did not ‘make the still life a 20th century art form’. At most, he used the form to grapple with the politics of his time. Masterpieces shines a soft light onto such questions, but one which urges us to peel back the layers of paint and pencil and see what lies beneath their still surfaces. 

Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation is on show at the Estorick Collection until 28 May 2023.

Make sure to collect your Yamos on the gowithYamo app when you visit!

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
The Master of Still-Life: Giorgio Morandi at The Estorick Collection
Written by
Jelena Sofronijevic
Date Pulblished
17/02/2023
Estorick Collection
Giorgio Morandi
17/02/2023
Spotlight
Jelena Sofronijevic
Our take on Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation, showing now at The Esoterick Collection

‘He didn’t like talking about his art. Or much in general,’ says Carlo, a volunteer at the Estorick Collection. He’s gesturing towards a photograph of Giorgio Morandi, one of 20th century Italy’s best known artists. 

A relative recluse, often referred to as ‘The Monk’, Morandi remained single, practising from the same house shared with his mother and sisters in Bologna. Influenced by Impressionism, his landscapes were painted not en plein air, but through binoculars; indeed, he wouldn’t travel to Paris until 1956, and scarcely left his bedroom-studio - save for summer holidays in Grizanna, renamed Grizanna Morandi in his honour in 1985.

Take this hint at how well-loved and loving the artist was from Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation. Not detached, but well-connected and privileged, Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) came of age amidst a new wave of Italian art historians seeking to relaunch – and politically instrumentalise – art. Roberto Longhi ‘launched Morandi’ into the sphere of intellectual art, drawing on theories of formalism, conceptualism, and metaphysical art. Fellow artist Ardengo Soffico exhibited his etchings, and di Chirico wrote his captions.

Still Life with Bread Basket (1941)

Masterpieces focuses on another relationship, that with his closest collector and patron, Luigi Magnani. Two galleries, taken from the dairy magnate’s private collection in Palma, are here displayed for the first time in the UK, adding to the Estorick’s permanent collection of Morandi on paper. Its curation – chronological, covering all media and subjects – reflects Magnani’s efforts to recreate the career of the artist. But even more, it’s an ‘act of love’, a warm testament to their friendship.

Morandi already had three Venice Biennales and four international exhibitions under his belt before their chance meeting in 1940, and in all senses he was in control. He chose the frames (all originals in the exhibition’s second room, of paintings), represented himself in the market, and would enquire of his patrons where they’d put their paintings. In his single commissioned work, he squashes Magnani’s menial subject of choice, a lute, face down on the table, with a broken toy guitar.

Still, clean, white walls aside, Masterpieces is rather warm and intimately curated. Archive letters, photographs, and the very first etchings (of flowers) given and dedicated ‘to Gino’ betray any sense of coldness. At sixteen years his junior, Magnani lent into this hierarchical relationship, portraying himself as ‘the novice approaching the master’.

Zinnias in a Vase (1932)

Upstairs, in Gallery 4, the institution’s eponymous Eric Estorick writes warmly of his first meeting with Morandi in 1950, the ‘most approachable person’. It helped that the artist gifted him a proof of his very first etching, ‘The Bridge over the Savena in Bologna’ (1912), which remains in the Estorick’s permanent collection today. 

Indeed, the permanent collection provides much of the context to the temporary exhibition; his practice exemplified by an ‘extreme simplicity of line’, and ‘extraordinary economy of means’. Otherwise, Masterpieces captions are as minimal as his practice; take the Saturday morning tours for more welcome, accessible information.

There is but one (rare) self-portrait – no matter, for the curation mirrors the artist’s own perception of his practice. Remembered for his paintings, he considered himself first and foremost an etcher and printmaker, works which saturate the first gallery. Here we see Morandi the Meticulous, eschewing the spontaneity of those like Rembrandt, working with great precision and planning, an embodiment of the Vasarian concept of disegno (drawing, draughtsmanship, and design). Self-taught, all his geekery would put him into good stead, going on to hold the Chair in Printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna.

Still Life with Pears and Grapes (1927)

His still lifes from the 1920s start off as direct copies of his ‘declared idols’ like Paul Cezanne, though by the 1940s, he combined his own contemporary influences. One, shot with straight line - ‘very Van Gogh’ - separates the midtone colours, to create a new work of postmodernism. By his late years, landscapes and still lifes become wholly ‘interchangeable’; the buildings of ‘The Courtyard on Via Fondazza’ (1954) lined up like bottles and vases.

Still Life (detail) (1948)

‘See his still lifes. They are all grounded, never floating,’ admires Carlo. His objects are positioned ‘like a chess player’, the paintings all planned out in drawings beneath the surface. But for a man ‘as enigmatically neutral as his bottles,’ we never get the sense of an artist who is dull, or square. 

His still lifes are ‘odd’ scenes, where vases, jugs, and jars gather ‘conspiratorially’. Here, context matters, but is sadly absent. Morandi used modernism to resist the ‘oppression’ of Italian Renaissance art, and the predominance of fifteenth-century primitivism. His resistance turned political in 1943, when he was imprisoned for a week due to his proximity to the Partisans, Italy’s anti-fascist movement during World War II.

Still Life (1953)

Morandi still continued to exhibit with artists who associated with the Novocento School and futurism; neither officially sanctioned as ‘Fascist art’, but both putting visual form to Mussolini’s totalitarian ideas. We see these complex contradictions play out in his still lifes; objects of softened lines, which seem less certain and clean-cut. 

No, Giorgio Morandi did not ‘make the still life a 20th century art form’. At most, he used the form to grapple with the politics of his time. Masterpieces shines a soft light onto such questions, but one which urges us to peel back the layers of paint and pencil and see what lies beneath their still surfaces. 

Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation is on show at the Estorick Collection until 28 May 2023.

Make sure to collect your Yamos on the gowithYamo app when you visit!

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
17/02/2023
Spotlight
Jelena Sofronijevic
The Master of Still-Life: Giorgio Morandi at The Estorick Collection
Our take on Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation, showing now at The Esoterick Collection

‘He didn’t like talking about his art. Or much in general,’ says Carlo, a volunteer at the Estorick Collection. He’s gesturing towards a photograph of Giorgio Morandi, one of 20th century Italy’s best known artists. 

A relative recluse, often referred to as ‘The Monk’, Morandi remained single, practising from the same house shared with his mother and sisters in Bologna. Influenced by Impressionism, his landscapes were painted not en plein air, but through binoculars; indeed, he wouldn’t travel to Paris until 1956, and scarcely left his bedroom-studio - save for summer holidays in Grizanna, renamed Grizanna Morandi in his honour in 1985.

Take this hint at how well-loved and loving the artist was from Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation. Not detached, but well-connected and privileged, Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) came of age amidst a new wave of Italian art historians seeking to relaunch – and politically instrumentalise – art. Roberto Longhi ‘launched Morandi’ into the sphere of intellectual art, drawing on theories of formalism, conceptualism, and metaphysical art. Fellow artist Ardengo Soffico exhibited his etchings, and di Chirico wrote his captions.

Still Life with Bread Basket (1941)

Masterpieces focuses on another relationship, that with his closest collector and patron, Luigi Magnani. Two galleries, taken from the dairy magnate’s private collection in Palma, are here displayed for the first time in the UK, adding to the Estorick’s permanent collection of Morandi on paper. Its curation – chronological, covering all media and subjects – reflects Magnani’s efforts to recreate the career of the artist. But even more, it’s an ‘act of love’, a warm testament to their friendship.

Morandi already had three Venice Biennales and four international exhibitions under his belt before their chance meeting in 1940, and in all senses he was in control. He chose the frames (all originals in the exhibition’s second room, of paintings), represented himself in the market, and would enquire of his patrons where they’d put their paintings. In his single commissioned work, he squashes Magnani’s menial subject of choice, a lute, face down on the table, with a broken toy guitar.

Still, clean, white walls aside, Masterpieces is rather warm and intimately curated. Archive letters, photographs, and the very first etchings (of flowers) given and dedicated ‘to Gino’ betray any sense of coldness. At sixteen years his junior, Magnani lent into this hierarchical relationship, portraying himself as ‘the novice approaching the master’.

Zinnias in a Vase (1932)

Upstairs, in Gallery 4, the institution’s eponymous Eric Estorick writes warmly of his first meeting with Morandi in 1950, the ‘most approachable person’. It helped that the artist gifted him a proof of his very first etching, ‘The Bridge over the Savena in Bologna’ (1912), which remains in the Estorick’s permanent collection today. 

Indeed, the permanent collection provides much of the context to the temporary exhibition; his practice exemplified by an ‘extreme simplicity of line’, and ‘extraordinary economy of means’. Otherwise, Masterpieces captions are as minimal as his practice; take the Saturday morning tours for more welcome, accessible information.

There is but one (rare) self-portrait – no matter, for the curation mirrors the artist’s own perception of his practice. Remembered for his paintings, he considered himself first and foremost an etcher and printmaker, works which saturate the first gallery. Here we see Morandi the Meticulous, eschewing the spontaneity of those like Rembrandt, working with great precision and planning, an embodiment of the Vasarian concept of disegno (drawing, draughtsmanship, and design). Self-taught, all his geekery would put him into good stead, going on to hold the Chair in Printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna.

Still Life with Pears and Grapes (1927)

His still lifes from the 1920s start off as direct copies of his ‘declared idols’ like Paul Cezanne, though by the 1940s, he combined his own contemporary influences. One, shot with straight line - ‘very Van Gogh’ - separates the midtone colours, to create a new work of postmodernism. By his late years, landscapes and still lifes become wholly ‘interchangeable’; the buildings of ‘The Courtyard on Via Fondazza’ (1954) lined up like bottles and vases.

Still Life (detail) (1948)

‘See his still lifes. They are all grounded, never floating,’ admires Carlo. His objects are positioned ‘like a chess player’, the paintings all planned out in drawings beneath the surface. But for a man ‘as enigmatically neutral as his bottles,’ we never get the sense of an artist who is dull, or square. 

His still lifes are ‘odd’ scenes, where vases, jugs, and jars gather ‘conspiratorially’. Here, context matters, but is sadly absent. Morandi used modernism to resist the ‘oppression’ of Italian Renaissance art, and the predominance of fifteenth-century primitivism. His resistance turned political in 1943, when he was imprisoned for a week due to his proximity to the Partisans, Italy’s anti-fascist movement during World War II.

Still Life (1953)

Morandi still continued to exhibit with artists who associated with the Novocento School and futurism; neither officially sanctioned as ‘Fascist art’, but both putting visual form to Mussolini’s totalitarian ideas. We see these complex contradictions play out in his still lifes; objects of softened lines, which seem less certain and clean-cut. 

No, Giorgio Morandi did not ‘make the still life a 20th century art form’. At most, he used the form to grapple with the politics of his time. Masterpieces shines a soft light onto such questions, but one which urges us to peel back the layers of paint and pencil and see what lies beneath their still surfaces. 

Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation is on show at the Estorick Collection until 28 May 2023.

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