Morandi, Giorgio (Bologna, 1890-1964).
    Born into a middle class family in Bologna, in 1907 he enrolled at the Bologna academy of fine art from which he graduated in 1913 when he had already produced his first, significant works. In fact the student’s “fragile attempts” (Nevicata, and Paesaggio) date from 1910, but already in the following year he painted the “miraculous” and “incredibly complete” landscape about which Cesare Brandi spoke of its “vast sky of unanchored solitude”. In the summer of 1913 the Morandi family went on holiday for the first time to Grizzana, where the young artist painted his first alpine landscapes.
    His friends during these years were his fellow students Osvaldo Licini, Severo and Mario Pozzati, Giacomo Vespignani, and Mario Bacchelli (whose brother Riccardo wrote the first critical essay about the artist in 1918, in which he hailed the Morandi “revelation”). Together with them, on 21 and 22 March 1914 the artist exhibited in a famous show at the Hotel Baglioni, after which, through Balilla Pratella, he connected up with the Futurist group, with whom Morandi exhibited at the Galleria Sprovieri, Rome, in the same year. Morandi only had a slight rapport with the Futurists, as is demonstrated by the fact that he took part in the second exhibition of the Rome Secession to which the Futurists were not admitted. His development, rather, was due to Cézanne’s example together with that of Derain (Ritratto della sorella, 1912-13), and the 1909-1910 Cubism of Picasso and Braque (Natura morta, 1914-1915). During this period he was highly experimental in order to discover for himself the possibilities offered for images by international culture. The references to it were many, and the cultural relationships were continuous. And so, if for the still-lifes with spiral objects and the Fiori of 1915 the references were to Henri Rousseau, of fundamental importance for Morandi’s Metaphysical decision in the spring of 1918 were the articles and reproductions found in the Bolognese magazine edited by Giuseppe Raimondi “La Raccolta” (essays by Raimondi about the Metaphysical works of Carrà, and other texts by Savinio and de Chirico; reproduction of works by Carrà and de Chirico). In the paintings produced from halfway through 1918 and the first months of 1919 rigour is absolute, and he also reached and perfected a formal synthesis of the objects. For Morandi, the second half of 1919 was a time for a recuperation of the physicality of things, of a full-bodied and dense rediscovery of the surroundings of everyday life. Morandi became close to Mario Broglio and the Valori Plastici group, and he worked and exhibited with them.
    He created such paintings as Fiori and the Natura Morta with a round table in the early months of 1920, while in the works produced in the summer-autumn the influence of Cézanne became stronger: Morandi had been able to see many of his works at the Venice Biennale. Morandi exhibited with the Valori Plastici group in Berlin and other German cities in a travelling show in 1921, and in the following year at the Fiorentina Primaverile with a catalogue presentation by Giorgio de Chirico who coined for him the famous definition “the metaphysics of everyday things”. The artist, having given up experimenting in order to deepen his own interior poetry, began a development in which even the thematic and stylistic variations were contained within an absolutely interior evolution. After a moment of subtle anxiety, seen in the still-lifes from 1920-1922, and the tensions and frissons of 1929-1937, Morandi arrived at a meditated control of feeling, at that “poetry on the edge” that was to distinguish his works from then on. While he took part in the activities of the Novecento group (the two Permanente shows in Milan in 1926 and 1929; the exhibitions abroad in 1929-1930), Morandi was also in contact with the men of “Il Selvaggio” and with Leo Longanesi. Together with Maccari and the Tuscan artists, in 1927 he took part in the II Esposizione dell’Incisione Moderna in Florence.
    In 1930, due to his fame and without having to take a competitive exam, he was elected professor of etching techniques at the Bologna academy of fine art. In the same year he was seen at the Venice Biennale with various etchings. He was to return to Venice, where he had first been seen in 1928, in 1932 with a portrait and two still-lifes, as well as various etchings. In 1929 and 1930 he also sent his works to editions of the Carnegie Prize in Pittsburgh. In March 1932 a whole issue of “L’Italiano” was devoted to Morandi, with an important essay by Ardengo Soffici and numerous reproductions. He was now on his way to the recognition that over the following years was to be confirmed by the critical acknowledgement that was to build the official image of Morandi which for decades was not disputed. It was from about 1937 that his paintings became increasingly “precious gems of art, and less extracts from nature”. His friendship with Roberto Longhi helped him in his definition of formal values that, in the following years, was to be matured and perfected.
    If it was his landscapes from 1943 that revealed the “stupendous whites of houses touched by the sun, a prelude to the views of Grizzana in his later years” (Solmi), it was in the post-war period and the 1950s that Morandi increasingly concentrated on the highest form of poetry and an absolute formal measure. He also distanced himself from debates about trends, helped in this by a whole series of Italian critics - Raimondi, Longhi, Brandi, Gnudi, Ragghianti, Vitali, and Arcangeli – who saw in him the symbol of an autonomous artistic fact that went well beyond the conditioning of the times and of languages.
    Despite his first prize for painting at the 1948 Venice Biennale, which was widely disputed, the younger generations no longer argued about his art because other, more impellent artists, fascinated them.
    In his last paintings from the 1960s the artist’s imagination withdrew even further from the world, and became populated with forms of solitude which, with great discretion, allowed the surfacing of a sense of mortality. During the 1970s and 1980s there was a great increase in Italy and abroad of monographic shows of Morandi’s work, by now considered as one of the greatest artists of the century. To a large extent this was contributed to by the activities of the Archivio e Centro Studi Giorgio Morandi of the Bologna city council and which was to organise the establishment in 1993 of the Morandi Museum in Palazzo d’Accursio.

    Marilena Pasquali in La pittura in Italia. Il Novecento (1900-1945), Milan, 1997.