Published: April 24, 2001
The Collectors’ Eye:
LONDON, ENGLAND – “Giorgio Morandi: The Collectors’ Eye,” an exhibition of works by Giorgio Morandi from the Florentine private collections, will be staged by the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art at 39a Canonbury Square, London Nl, from Wednesday, May 16, to Sunday, August 26.
“The Collectors’ Eye” will comprise 12 oil paintings from four private collections in Florence, most of which are not normally on view to the public, together with the ten drawings and 18 etchings from the Estorick Collection. The works range in date from 1912 to 1959 and the core of the exhibition will be nine paintings from the collection of Roberto Longhi (1890-1970), who was the most important Italian art historian and critic of his time and became a lifelong friend of the artist as well as a collector of his work.
The other three paintings from Florence are a 1935 landscape given by Longhi to his doctor, Professor Noferi; a 1943 landscape which was a wedding present from Longhi to the critic Piero Bigongiari; and a 1936 landscape from the Alberto Della Ragione collection which was given to the City of Florence after he was asked to help following the disastrous flood of 1966.
Morandi (1890-1964) is one of Italy’s best-known Twentieth Century artists. He was born in Bologna and lived there throughout his life, except for a number of short stays in Grizzana, a mountain village between Bologna and Florence. He enrolled at the city’s Accademia de Belle Arti in 1907 and frequently visited Florence to study the Renaissance masters; he also traveled to Rome, where he was impressed by the work of Monet and Cézanne, and Venice where in 1910 he first saw paintings by Renoir.
In Longhi’s introduction to the exhibition in Florence at the Galleria Il Fiore in 1945, which he described as being “a homage to the great Bolognese painter,” he made an illuminating list of Morandi’s favorite artists in chronological order: Giotto, Masaccio, Piero della Francesco, Bellini, Titian, Chardin, Corot, Renior, and Cézanne.
Although Morandi knew and exhibited with many of the more avant-garde artists of his time, he did not ally himself with any group but pursued his own ideas of natural truth. Perhaps as a result of this he was given no official recognition until winning the prize for painting at the 1948 Venice Biennale. However, several renowned Italian critics, notably Roberto Longhi, greatly appreciated the intimacy and emotional content of his work.
Mondari’s sensitive use of light imbues the shapes of the mundane objects that he repeatedly painted such as pots, bottles, and boxes with a mysterious monumentality and allows them to convey a sense of timelessness. He is probably best known for these intense still lifes, in which he captures the essence of such ordinary objects as vases of flowers, but he also painted landscapes of equally disquieting mystery and archived similarly remarkable results with his delicate drawings and etchings.
When Longhi heard of the death of Morandi in June 1964, he referred to his “pursuing an interpretation of the world of nature so poetic as to be unequalled during the 50 years he was destined to journey through, casting his dense, majestic shadow… I mean to say that Morandi’s stature will, indeed must, increase still further once the last half century has been fairly re-evaluated and appraised.”
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue which will include two of Roberto Longhi’s key texts on the artist.
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