Giorgio Morandi – Late work

Just before his death, Giorgio Morandi said “‘I have so  many ideas that I still want to realize’.

What is striking about his late work are the cool colors and the dissolving boundaries

Painted in 1960

Here is an excerpt showing the boundary between the  left aspect of the vessel with its background:


Painted in 1964 just before his death:


Here is its excerpt showing its left aspect against the background:


First a comment about the colors. The illustrations shown here were scanned from a book sold at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC: Giorgio Morandi 1890 – 1964. The colors in the book are much warmer (‘candified’) than the actual colors of the paintings – why are the painting so badly reproduced? I tried to restore the cooler hues using adobe photoshop.

For example, the yellow bottom of the 1964 flask is a cool, feeble yellow while in the reproduction it is a warm cheery yellow. Likewise, the yellow background on top is a grey/cool yellow rather than the almost orange color in the book. Likewise, in the 1960 still life, the red of the cup is much and the cool grey bottom background were restored by me to their cooler hues.

Now to the dissolving boundaries. A close look at the excerpt of the 1960 still life shows a clear boundary between the left aspect of the vessel and the background. However, viewing the painting from some distance in the museum, the boundary disappeared and that aspect of the vessel melted into the background. It was an intriguing experiment, going close to the picture and standing back and observing the disappearing boundary, cutting the top vessel vertically in half.

Looking at the excerpt of the 1964 still life, one notices that here the colors between the left aspect of the vessel and the background are similar. What makes for the boundary are the different directions of the paint strokes. What an interesting method.

In the 1960 one, the cool red color is fascinating. There is a great  ‘vibration’ between the white vessel in front, the oval of the  top of the red vessel and the cooler greyish vessel far back.

In the 1964 one, at death door, Morandi expressed something like how very much he still wanted to realize new ideas in his paintings – a touching thought.

In the last still life, in addition to the dissolving boundary, I appreciated the colors. The feeble yellow and the lovely turquoise in the round shape in the foreground. I did not see this pale turquoise in any of his other paintings in the exhibition.

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