Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I was in New York last week and saw the Giorgio Morandi show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Anyone with an interest in painting should see this show. It really might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. When I first moved to NY in 1992 I remember seeing a couple Morandi paintings in a couple of places, I can't remember where exactly but I recall thinking that New York was great because you could see Morandi paintings all the time. Well that thought got proven wrong quickly. A couple of summers ago I was in Paris and saw a show of mid-century Italian art. Wading through a lot of so-so painting there was a room of about 10 Morandis. It was nice to get reacquainted with his work. I've always loved the color palette that he uses and the way he nestles the forms against each other. It was a wonderful day.
I came to the show full of anticipation to finally see a large group of his work. I've seen a few and looked several times at the limited number of books there are, read the biography from a few years ago by Janet Abramowicz. There is something to seeing the actual paintings as opposed to the reproductions. Yes this is always true, but more true in Morandis' case. The one thing that is missing is his touch. The way his touch make a rhythm around the painting. I really noticed it first in the flower paintings about half way through the show. It was the way he marked the vase and then the flowers, the delicate balance of the whole. Several paintings on, there is a lull of a wall of landscapes which I don't particularly care for, I thought it was great to see this many paintings, to be able to see what makes one good and one great and another even better. As I looked at a couple of paintings which didn't look as good as some others, I started to really see them. The ever so slight way that the space between two of the objects became more important than the space to the left of the object and the inflection of the line describing the edge of another object started to play off the space to its right. I couldn't see these things in a reproduction. The paintings are these amazing poems of rhythm and form. They are everything that I want to see in a painting and everything I could hope to put into my own.