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"Giorgio Morandi: The Collectors Eye"
2001-05-16 until 2001-08-26
Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art
London, , UK United Kingdom

This exhibition comprises twelve oil paintings from four private collections in Florence, most of which are not normally on view, together with ten drawings and eighteen etchings from the Estorick Collection. The works range in date from 1912 to 1959 and the core of the exhibition is nine paintings from the collection of Roberto Longhi (1890-1970) who was the most important Italian art historian and critic of his time and became a life-long friend of the artist as well as a collector of his work. The other three paintings are a 1935 landscape given by Longhi to his doctor, Professor Noferi, a 1943 landscape which was a wedding present from Longhi to the critic Piero Bigongiari and a 1936 landscape from the Alberto Della Ragione collection which was given to the city of Florence after he was asked to help following the disastrous flood of 1966.

Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) is one of Italy's best-known 20th century artists. He was born in Bologna and lived there throughout his life, except for a number of short stays in Grizzana, a mountain village between Bologna and Florence. He enrolled at the Accademia di Belle Arti in 1907 and frequently visited Florence to study the Renaissance masters; he also travelled to Rome, where he was impressed by the work of Monet and CÚzanne, and Venice where in 1910 he first saw paintings by Renoir. According to Longhi's introduction Morandi's favourite artists included: Giotto, Masaccio, Piero della Francesca, Bellini, Titian, Chardin, Corot, Renoir and CÚzanne. Although Morandi knew and exhibited with many of the more avant-garde artists of his time, he did not ally himself with any group but pursued his own ideas of natural truth. Perhaps as a result of this he was given no official recognition until winning the prize for painting at the 1948 Venice Biennale.

Morandi's sensitive use of light imbues the shapes of the mundane objects that he repeatedly painted such as pots, bottles and boxes with a mysterious monumentality and allows them to convey a sense of timelessness. He is probably best known for these intense still lifes in which he captures the essence of such ordinary objects as vases of flowers, but he also painted landscapes of equally disquieting mystery and achieved similarly remarkable results with his delicate drawings and etchings.

Giorgio Morandi: the Collectors' eye provides a fascinating opportunity to analyse the artistic choices of Italian critics and collectors who were Morandi's contemporaries and to compare them with those made by Eric Estorick who was a passionate collector as well as a dealer in 20th century Italian art.

The exhibition is accompanied by an 84 page, full illustrated catalogue published by the Estorick Foundation.


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