Alba, Fondazione Ferrero
from 16 October 2010 until 16 January 2011
Visiting hours: Tuesdays – Fridays 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.; Sundays and holidays 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Closed on Mondays
Tickets: free admission
Information: tel. 0173 363480
However, as Federico Zeri recalled, "while everyone knows him as the author of still lifes, few are aware of his other activity, namely as a landscape artist. […] I consider these paintings as the highest landscape masterpieces of all times. They betray affectionate attention towards the early works by Corot; at times one can perceive very indirect and transfigured reflections belonging to Cézanne" . For this reason, all the more precious is the exhibition set up in the halls of the Ferrero Foundation in Alba that explores the essence of landscape in the art by the master from Bologna through approximately seventy works, which are prevalently paintings and a rigorous selection of watercolours. A further appealing element of the display lies in the origin of these works, which were almost all destined by Morandi to his most loyal companions, artists and intellectuals, from Malaparte to Casella, from Soffici to Campana and Ungaretti; in addition to his early collectors and admirers, patrons, art critics and historians, Longhi and Vitali, Brandi and Magnani, Ragghianti, Venturi and Arcangeli – weaving the story of Morandi’s art together with the culture of those times.
The exhibition begins with a precious group of early works dating back to the second decade of the XX century, starting off with the influential "Nevicata" dated 1910 – lacking human voices and presences as all of his future landscapes, flanked by works of the forthcoming years such as "Paesaggio Vitali" (1911), mindful of Cubism and the lessons of Cézanne, in addition to the undertones of Rousseau Le Douanier, as proof of the untiring research for independent expressiveness and a refinement in style of the solitary man from via Fondazza. A crucial moment in the poetics of Morandi’s works were the towns painted over the following decade, which were in line with Italian tradition - Giotto, Masaccio, Piero della Francesca - and innervated it with a sense of contemporaneousness so much more extreme as it was dissimulated. Therefore the geometry of Cézanne welcomed slight traces of colour, recalling the whitewashing of XV-century frescoes. The landscapes were severe, absolute and with a firm structure, distant from any form of naturalism, where the few houses, that were as close as solid geometries stood out, in the late morning light, against skies enamelled in blue of Piero della Francesca purity. During the 1930s Morandi reached the peak of his independent grandeur and his highest results. The meditated harmony of forms was mirrored in the perfection of tones: the gloomy landscapes, as “useless” as the bottles and bowls that inhabited his still lifes, definitely revealed their essence as “pure” pretexts of expression. This occurred especially in the landscapes of Grizzana, created by Morandi during the tragic years of war as a further essential hub of the artist from Bologna, and one of the highest moments of Italian XX-century art. Extolling a larger monochrome-filled background than the previous decade, when colour still outlined the presence of objects, coagulating light for sharper and more dramatic contrast, Morandi subtracted body and texture from the matter. This was until he only left little more than a modulated veil on the canvas where the hills and valleys of the Apennine Mountains in the Emilia region seemed washed away by time, the shrouds of loneliness and desolation. The review in Alba comes to a close with the absorbed contemplation aroused by the “via Fondazza courtyards” series dating back to the 1950s, flanked by the Grizzana landscapes of his later years. One witnesses a progressive dematerialization of reality into light, the thinning of painting that shattered the boundary between landscape and still life: an example of this is exhibited through the combination of a “Landscape” painted in 1962 and a “Still Life” from 1963. They both give life, embody and implement the words spoken by Morandi which made him famous: “There is nothing more abstract that reality”.
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