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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

An Imprismed Artist: Giorgio Morandi

By the Queen of Free (I was a guest)

You may think bottles and jars and containers painted from different perspectives in muted colors would be boring but then you haven’t seen the latest exhibition at the Phillips Collection: Morandi Master of Modern Still Life which is up through May 24, 2009.

Upon reading a description you might decide it's not worth a trip but you would be missing a good-sized show with several Cezanne (opening Thursday in Philadelphia) comparisons, intriguing still lifes, and interesting etchings.

Morandi is considered a master of landscapes, too, but the exhibit has just a few of them. However, the show is made all the more fascinating when you learn that Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) lived in the same Bologna apartment with his mother and three sisters practically his whole life and never ventured outside Italy until he was 66! Egads! No wonder his subjects were indoor and inanimate. Does this explain why he painted almost no humans except seven portraits of himself? Please: Where is his biography?

Wikipedia calls him "a prescient and important forerunner of Minimalism.” I’ll say.

One painting, “Wild Flowers” was reminiscient of Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” without the sun, as in yellow. In the accompanying brochure the Phillips says Morandi has a cult following. Oh, I am sure. With sisters and a mother for roommates, is it any wonder his paintings of boxes and shadows are in muted colors? Were they small-sized tombs for different body parts? It is easy to note the plentiful phallic symbols on top of many of the containers. Hey, if I were living with a mother and three sisters in an apartment I’d be drawing weapons of mass destruction. (Hollywood! Get me Hollywood.)

Friday night the Phillips hosted “upper-level” members to a borderline lively reception where enough hors d’oeuvres, dessert pieces, wine, and Italian beer were served to substitute for dinner. A pleasant, enjoyable evening also presenting food for thought.

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