A while back one of my professors suggested that I look at the work of Giorgio Morandi. Morandi is an Italian painter and printmaker primarily known for his simple tonal still life paintings of nondescript, everyday household items. He would often paint bottles, bowls or vases that could be found in any home, taking something seemingly irrelevant that anyone can relate to and putting it in a place of importance as the subject of the painting. His paintings are very simplified, not only in subject, but also in his approach. Morandi uses a limited palette with such subtle shifts in tone, often given them an almost flat appearance. This flatness is one of the reasons I really struggled to understand why my professor had suggested that I look at his work. I tend to use a full range, and often emphasize the variations of light and dark in my paintings.
Ironically, when I was researching Uta Barth last week I found that she was heavily influenced by the work of Morandi, so I revisited his work. I find that since I have been breaking my images down and concentrating more on the individual parts of the whole I can better relate to the style of artists like Morandi. I still love the rich textures that I can achieve using strong chiaroscuro affects, but I can also appreciate subtle tonal images like those of Morandi. A small shift in value can imply a softer presence of the subject as opposed to attempting to force the subject into the viewer’s world. This can be very appealing in a time when everything is so busy and over-stimulating. So many artists today just seem to be trying to do as much as possible in the space they are working perhaps hoping that something will stick. I love that Morandi’s work is what it is, and that he didn’t seem to feel he had to make it any more complex in order to impress the viewer.
I also enjoy Morand’s simple subjects. I understand that he would work very hard to achieve the right balance in his compositions, but they emanate a sense of quiet and serenity that really appeals to me. I find that my recent approach to my work seems to lend itself to more simplified subjects which also happen to be overlooked. It’s nice to see an artist who does this.
Morandi’s style is simple and painterly. His name has come up twice more in conversations this week, so I plan to continue to study his work and hope it will influence what I am doing.