press release

Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) is one of the most admired Italian painters of the twentieth century, known for his subtle and contemplative paintings, largely of still lifes. From the Metaphysical paintings of his early years, to the nearly abstract canvases made in the 1960s, Morandi engaged in a lifelong attempt to seize reality through the familiar. The consistency and intensity of this investigation has made him the quintessential 'artist's artist'.

Working from his studio in Bologna, a place he rarely left for long, Morandi used the same simple elements, including bottles, boxes, and the view from his window, staging a seemingly endless array of variations. His paintings appear to transcend time and place, an effect he achieved by removing labels from his bottles, faces from his clocks, and people from his landscapes. In fact, many of Morandi's works can be read as arrangements of pure form. This is particularly the case for those produced after 1945, the principal focus of this exhibition. The subtle variations of these late works demonstrate Morandi's capacity for discovering immense complexity within the self-imposed limitations of his practice.

Each room in the exhibition explores specific tendencies. The introductory room presents selected canvases from across Morandi's career. It is followed by a study of the architectonic nature of his work, described by a critic as the impression of 'cathedrals rather than bottles.' One room examines Morandi's use of the edge as a structural device, while another begins with a single work in the Tate Collection and traces other paintings that use and rearrange the same objects.

The final room includes some of his most abstracted paintings, in which objects seem to be on the brink of dissolving without ever quite relinquishing their recognisably solid origins. Morandi once commented that 'there is nothing more surreal, nothing more abstract than reality'. It is perhaps this searching investigation of the relationship between the real and the illusory that ensures that his work continues to be relevant today.

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Giorgio Morandi
Kuratoren: Donna De Salvo, Matthew Gale