This exhibition featured 29 original etchings by Giorgio Morandi, most of which were created between 1920 and 1935. They included remarkable still lifes, elegant and poetic bouquets of flowers and serene landscapes of Grizzana, a small mountain village near Bologna which the painter visited on many occasions. These were accompanied by several drawings and watercolours which illustrated the artist’s evolution towards purer, almost basic forms.
Most of Giorgio Morandi’s work fell into in two genres which are regarded as minor ones – still life and landscape painting. Throughout his life, he arranged volumes in painstaking compositions.
He focused on representing the humble objects of everyday life – bottles, vases, boxes, candlesticks – organised in series of sober, practically identical compositions. Painted in an intentionally limited palette of colours, these tiny variations bring out the intrinsic beauty of the object. His contrasting landscapes exploit chiaroscuro and the subtle whims of light that we find in the vibrant stillness of his still lifes.
Engraving, which featured prominently in the exhibition, made up a large part of Morandi’s work. From the 1920s onwards, Morandi practised it with rigour and determination. He trained in etching and transferred the skills he acquired into his painting, where we can observe his refined chromatic sensitivity. However, Morandi was primarily considered an expert engraver. He enjoyed considerable fame, so much so that, between 1928 and 1934, he was invited to take part in the black and white section at the Venice Biennale. In 1930, the City of Bologna awarded him the professorship in engraving at the Academy of Fine Arts. He reached his peak in the discipline in the years 1933-1934. In 1948, the National Centre of Engraving and the Printed Image in Rome published an anthology of his etchings.
Morandi’s etchings differ from his paintings only in terms of technique, and the reciprocity is such that we can sometimes see the equivalent of brushstrokes in the hatching in his etchings. The whole image is brought to life by his somewhat dense hatching. These areas of blank space seem to be an intentional simplification of reality, in his quest for the essential.
The arrangement of the works in the exhibition enabled a magical imaginary dialogue between the two artists. The motionless ballet of Folon’s snapshots, hung in pairs in space and time, seemed to respond to the silent and secret symphony of the contrasts arranged by the maestro Morandi…