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Giorgio Morandi

©Adagp, Paris, 2017, Courtesy Morat-Institut für Kunst und Kunstwissenschaft, Freiburg i. Breisgau, Photo: Hartmut Schmidt
©Adagp, Paris, 2017, Courtesy Morat-Institut für Kunst und Kunstwissenschaft, Freiburg i. Breisgau, Photo: Hartmut Schmidt
  • ©Adagp, Paris, 2017, Courtesy Morat-Institut für Kunst und Kunstwissenschaft, Freiburg i. Breisgau, Photo: Hartmut Schmidt
  • ©Adagp, Paris, 2017, Collection Privée / Private Collection, Photo: Christopher Clem Franken, Köln
  • ©Adagp, Paris, 2017, Collection Privée / Private Collection
  • ©Adagp, Paris, 2017, Collection Privée / Private Collection, Photo: Christopher Clem Franken, Köln
Galerie Karsten Greve Paris

September 9 - October 7, 2017
Opening reception: Saturday, 9 September 2017, 6 - 8 p.m.
The Galerie Karsten Greve is delighted to announce its forthcoming exhibition of art by Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964), twenty years after the groundbreaking 1996 exhibition in Cologne which led major international collections to acquire his work. Given the scarcity of Morandi's output, the exceptional array of some fifty works, including 38 still lifes and 15 landscapes, makes the exhibition a very special event indeed. The paintings, drawings, watercolours, and engravings from the period 1927 to 1963, on loan from major private collections, reflect the outstanding complexity of Morandi's oeuvre and shed significant light on his artistic career. The exhibition is museum-quality in the scope and quality of works on display and aims to build on the most prestigious retrospectives of Giorgio Morandi's work worldwide.
One can travel this world and see nothing. To achieve understanding it is necessary
not to see many things, but to look hard at what you do see. (Giorgio Morandi)
Giorgio Morandi's work is deeply rooted in the experience of everyday life and draws on the connection between the object and its representation in the artist's mind. Morandi was a solitary figure, working alone in his Bologna studio for most of his life, his art entirely focused on depicting his immediate surroundings. His inspiration came from the bottles of oil, vases, and cartons around him in the studio and the view from its windows. Once layered with matte paint, the objects became disembodied entities, "things" rather than objects, pretexts for painting rather than models in their own right.
Far from seeking merely to depict reality, Morandi's main interest lay in the ontological status of painting in terms of shape, colour, and space. His quest for painting structured solely by these elements led him to turn to avant-garde aesthetic experiments. He was initially briefly attracted to the Futurists but then moved on to metaphysical painting in the late 1910s, drawn by its attempts to embody space in concrete terms by giving precise shapes geometric form. When sketched in simple outline, still lifes became a laboratory for aesthetic experimentation that foregrounded the conceptualisation, rather than the depiction, of a given object. As a result, Giorgio Morandi focused on objects with overtly graphic profiles. While his landscapes and still lifes were in the main not pared back to their bare bones before the late 1920s, the technique developed and grew more prevalent in his work as he experimented with a variety of techniques. The way he dematerialised each object depended on the medium. His engravings used lines to play with abstraction, his oil paintings did the same with colour, and watercolour drew on the capacities of light. Each work thus represented an attempt at simplification, not by means of the artistic motif itself, as was the case for the Cubists, but rather of the technique.
Observing reality gave way to the massification of volumes in his paintings, whereas his engravings sought to obliterate them. Morandi's aim was to sever the bond with the extant to lay claim to creativity, as the artist creates his own truth. Morandi took this philosophy directly from Paul Cézanne. Cézanne openly acknowledged the artificiality of the artist's staging of reality, theorising that his creative intellectual activity, applied initially to recomposing reality and then to transcribing it in pictorial form, took precedence over the depiction of the truth. This philosophy is present throughout Morandi's oeuvre. Each new work is first and foremost a foregrounding of the relationships between the bodies of each object, with no pretensions to realism, but rather with a sense of spatial cohesion in mind. For Morandi, there was an unavoidable gap between reality and aesthetic experience, with the work of art sited in a perpetual "elsewhere".
This approach developed distinctively over the course of Morandi's career and was only taken to extremes from the mid-1950s onwards. His paintings were stripped of the sensuality of colour variation, drawing instead on a limited palette, and were infused with sunny light that lent a sculptural quality to the flat expanses of paint, prompting critics to compare his use of light to that of Piero della Francesca. The result was not dissimilar to the frescoes of Giotto and Masaccio, both of whom Morandi named as major influences on his work.
Giorgio Morandi's oeuvre offers a subtly varied, multi-directional ensemble centering on one almost unchanging motif, imbued with a far-reaching meditation on the essence of painting. His body of work has inspired contemporary artists such as Lawrence Carroll, represented by the gallery since almost two decades. His vision of artistic creativity similarly lies in a lengthy process of concentration and contemplation. Carroll’s work will be shown alongside Morandi's on the street side of the gallery.

Giorgio Morandi was born in Bologna, Italy, in 1890. On completing his studies at the Bologna Academy of Fine Arts (1907-1913), his work was included in the major group exhibitions that were to usher in a new era of Italian art, the II Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte della Secessione in Rome in 1914 and the Mostra del Novecento Italiano in Milan in 1926 and 1929. In 1930, Mussolini appointed him to the Chair of Engraving at the Bologna Academy of Fine Arts. He first came to international attention in 1948 when he was awarded first prize for painting at the 24th Venice Biennale; the following year, he was honoured with his first museum exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels. He was awarded the Rubens Prize for Painting by the city of Siegen in 1962. Giorgio Morandi's work features in many major public contemporary art collections, including the Pompidou Centre in Paris, Tate Modern in London, and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, which devoted a retrospective to him in 2008 in partnership with the Morandi Museum in Bologna. The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow is holding an exhibition of his work in 2017. Giorgio Morandi died in Bologna in 1964.

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