Giorgio Morandi’s Retrospective Opens at the Met in the Midst of Wave of Market Appreciation
In the last 19 months, the six highest prices for works by Giorgio Morandi have been established at auctions in Milan, London and, even, New York–with prices ranging from $1.5 to $2.7 million. Now comes the Met’s retrospective which offers Americans an opportunity to see the largest show of the artist’s work and first one in the United States. Lance Esplund in the NY Sun describes the painter this way:
Morandi was influenced by the rich, close range of browns, creams, and grays, as well as the weird spatial shifts, of early Cubist still lifes: the soulful dislocation of the Metaphysical cityscapes of de Chirico, the humble-yet-miraculous means of Chardin, the geometric precision of Piero, and the parched, sun-drenched ruins of classical antiquity. Morandi looked back, through the landscapes of Cézanne and Corot, to the frescos of Giotto, Masaccio, and Pompeii. He combined all of these influences, stirring them, bringing them to a simmer, creating monumental works built up out of subtlety upon subtlety.
Holland Carter in the New York Times develops some of the same themes but adds the contradictory biographical details:
Morandi comes with his own personal mystery, or myth, depending on what you hear. There seem to be two stories, the first of which — the life of St. Giorgio the Hermit — is the more popular.
It is the tale of a deeply reclusive Italian artist who lives his whole life in a single apartment, from which he rarely goes far. Though he teaches printmaking in the local art school, he sees almost no one socially. He rarely travels, is unaware of public events around him, knows little of new art elsewhere. Despite scant recognition of his art, he doggedly paints away in a tiny at-home studio to the end of his days.
Then there is a second story. In this one a shy but cosmopolitan painter socializes regularly with fellow artists and keeps up, through books and magazines, with art developments in the larger world. He travels extensively within his homeland and is alert to events, political and otherwise, there. His work attracts an international following. Genuinely retiring by nature, he uses his reputation as a recluse to pick and choose his company and to reserve his energies for art.
There’s nothing the art market likes more than a good retrospective to excite interest and encourage sales.
All That Life Contains, Contained (New York Times)
Morandi’s Subtle Spectacle (NY Sun)