31 oktober 2014

Giorgio Morandi

Giorgio Morandi's Bologna Studio.

"Morandi's studio was in his bedroom . . . or, his bed was in his studio. He slept, dreamed, contemplated and created his paintings, drawings and etchings in an intimate, dusty space of about nine square meters.
Morandi had two studios. His Bologna studio was located on the second floor of an old apartment building in via Fondazza. He lived in that building with his parents and sisters for over fifty years. Even after their mother died, he and his sisters continued living there together until Morandi's death in 1964.

On summer holidays he would travel with his sisters to Grizzana, a small mountain village an hour's drive away. In the years leading up to the war they would rent an apartment space where Morandi would paint. During the war (1943-44) they stayed in Grizanna for an extended stay. Morandi became so burdened by the anxiety he suffered from the nearby sounds and dangers of the war that he didn't return to the village until fifteen years later. In 1960, at his sisters' urging, he purchased some land and built a simple house ("for them" he said) in Grizanna, the only house he ever owned. He gave the architect a simple drawing that looked much like the buildings you can see in his landscape paintings. Eventually he grew to love his Grizanna home and studio, and in those last four years of his life he would stay in Girzzana, in his house, as long as the weather permitted.

Morandi's studio was his place of refuge. It provided him quiet protection from the distractions and demands of the outside world: his teaching, exhibiting, frequent requests and visits from art curators, critics, journalists, lovers of his art. He spent long periods of time in his studio contemplating, constructing and reconstructing still life arrangements of his famous collection of humble, simple objects which he kept stored in his studio. He would work in uninterrupted peace in his studio, taking whatever time was necessary to finally see deeply enough into himself and his subjects to "touch the essence of things."

Morandi's studio window in Bologna looked out over the via Fondezza courtyard. He painted many wonderful "landscapes" based on what he could see from his studio.
Based on what I have read and the photographs I have seen, there was only one window which supplied Morandi with his gentle, quiet studio light: a light "so utterly calm and elusive that one can once again believe in the possibility of endless peace" writes Phillip Jacottet. (see fig. 2)

Morandi painted in the afternoons, when (in his own words) "the light was best." He constructed some some kind of screen which he placed on the outsides of his studio window which allowed him to control the quality and amount of light falling on his still life stagings.
He had three separate tables in his studio upon which he arranged his still life compositions.
At night Morandi would make drawings in his studio by the light of a solitary bulb, which was in the ceiling.

In 1964 the well know art historian John Rewald visited Morandi and fortunately was given a tour of the house, including the studio. Rewald writes of the studio: "No skylight, no vast expanses, an ordinary room in a middle class apartment . . . but the rest was extraordinary: on the floor, on shelves, on a table, everywhere, boxes, bottles, vases. All kinds of containers in all kinds of shapes. They cluttered any available space, except for the two simple easels . . . They must have been there for a long time; on the surfaces of the shelves or tables, as well as on the flat tops of boxes, cans or similar receptacles, there was a thick layer of dust. It was a dense, gray, velvety dust, like a soft coat of felt, its color and texture seemingly providing the unifying element for these tall boxes and deep bowls, old pitchers and coffee pots, quaint vases and tin boxes. It was a dust that was not the result of negligence and untidiness but of patience, a witness to complete peace. In the stillness of his humble retreat from all the excitement of an agitated world, these everyday objects led their own, still life. Here, in this small room in which a great artist had surrounded himself with the necessities for a long and laborious existence, nothing was ever changed, nothing moved, except when the master carefully lifted a few of these unassuming objects to reassemble them in yet another order. The dust that covered them was like a mantle of nobility, endowing them with a special purpose and meaning, and attesting to the faithful company they had been keeping with Morandi for many, many years. "
In 2009 the Museum of Modern Art in Bologna opened "Casa Morandi" in via Fondazza. And it has opened his studio in Grizzana to the public as well." (bron: The Departing Landscape)

Giorgio Morandi's (reconstructed) studio in Bologna. (bron: EYE-LIKEY)

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