Biography

Giorgio Morandi was an Italian painter and printmaker, specialising in still life. His artworks are best known for their tonal subtlety in depicting simple subjects that could be found in any kitchen – such as jars, ceramic bowls and vases, bottles, pitchers, jugs and boxes. His extensive body of work is noted for its muted, contemplative compositions conveying an endless variety of arrangements of objects, familiar yet purposely stripped of any identifying marks such as labels, creating a sense of anonymity and universality.

Born in Bologna in 1890, Morandi went to the Academy of Fine Arts of Bologna, where he developed his interest in etching by studying books on Rembrandt. Before embracing his signature style, he became briefly involved with artists such as Umberto Boccioni, Giacomo Balla, and Giorgio de Chirico. Influenced by the works of Cézanne, Derain and Picasso, Morandi experimented with the avant-garde movements of his day, such as Cubism and Futurism. His practice evolved from those early experiments into a distinctive painting style that espoused small-scale canvases featuring simple renditions of vases, bottles, bowls and flowers.

In 1915, Morandi joined the army and was indefinitely discharged due to health issues. During the war, fascinated by the works of Cézanne and the Douanier Rousseau, Morandi started reducing his still lifes in compositional elements, leading to purer forms in his practice. Between 1918 and 1922, Morandi’s work enters the Metaphysical painting phase- the final shift in his career. Since then, he focused increasingly on subtle gradations of hue, tone, and objects arranged in a unifying atmospheric haze, establishing the direction his art was to take for the rest of his life.

Morandi’s work was well-received during his lifetime – winning first prize at the 1948 Venice Biennale and the 1957 São Paulo Biennale. His work has been exhibited in New York, London, Milan, Paris, Bologna, and Brussels and belongs in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Centre Pompidou, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Musée d’Orsay, the Museo Reina Sofía, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Tate.

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Ferus: A Visual Conversation