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Picturing Morandi’s Hat

Few painters made work as quiet as Giorgio Morandi, who spent most of his long career painting deceptively simple still lifes of spare arrangements. Working in his Bologna studio, he produced more than a thousand small, dun colored paintings that obsessively explored color, shape and negative space in depictions of a changing collection of small objects, relentlessly pursuing the gap between vision and representation. He died in 1964, but his work has continued to attract admirers, especially among other artists, and he seems to be having a minor resurgence, one of several in the past 20 years. A show of his paintings was on view at David Zwirner Gallery in New York last fall, and the Center for Italian Modern Art in New York is showing his paintings until June 25.

Among the artists he inspired is Joel Meyerowitz, whose photographs of objects in the painter’s studio are on view at Spazio Damiani, the art publisher’s new exhibition space, until February 1. Damiani is also publishing a book the work, Morandi’s Objects. Set on “a pale, rosy golden paper that is brittle and ready to crumble at the slightest touch” and covered by Morandi’s markings, Meyerowitz photographed a selection of objects ranging from vases and bottles to pitchers and shells, to the artist’s hat and palette. Meyerowitz writes, “I sat at Giorgio Morandi’s table in exactly the same place that he sat for more than 40 years. On his table the same slant of light glowed for me as had for him. I watched it slowly bloom across his now empty, but tracery filled work surface for two days in the spring of 2015. One by one, more than 260 objects that he had collected came into my hands. Dust covered and ordinary, they presented themselves as part of the mystery that Morandi left behind for us to try and understand. Many objects returned again and again to perform for him and take a fresh position within the chorus of voices arranged on his table. How is it that these quotidian objects contained so much power that they kept Morandi in thrall to them throughout his life?”

Related Stories:

Joel Meyerowitz: Times Square, 1963

Joel Meyerowitz on What He’s Learned: Part I (For PDN subscribers; Log in required)

Joel Meyerowitz on What He’s Learned: Part II (For PDN subscribers; Log in required)

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