• Bianca Mafodda

ART INDEX: Giorgio Morandi


“Some can travel the world and see nothing of it. To understand this world, we should avoid seeing too much of it, but rather look closely at what we do see.”

– Giorgio Morandi



One of the main characters of the Italian 20th century artistic scenario, Giorgio Morandi (1890 – 1964) used to say that everything is a mystery, and he has chased the secret of the mystery all his life through his art. Classical yet minimal, his paintings are famous throughout the world because of the intensity and the calmness they evoke.


Born in 1890, Giorgio Morandi spent his whole life in his native city Bologna. He was always drawn to the art world: he studied art at the Fine Arts Academy in Bologna (1907-1913) and the artist among the contemporary scene that seems to have been the most influential for his future art is Paul Cezanne (fig. 1). Another artist that has been profoundly inspiring to Giorgio Morandi was the Italian Giorgio De Chirico, and his metaphysical paintings especially, all dated starting from the late 1910s. The stillness in Morandi’s artworks is somehow connected to De Chirico’s enigmatic associations, were everything seems frozen in a given time and space.



Fig. 1 - Paul Cézanne, Still life with milk pot and fruits on a table, 1890 ca.


Morandi always led an almost monastic life, entirely dedicated to his painting and the quest of the special beauty and harmony that lie in the most insignificant and intimate details. Around the 1930s, Morandi’s visual speech became more and more defined, being characterised by that iconic visual effect that eventually turned him into one of the most know and appreciated artists of the 20th century. He started from the concept of landscape, but what he painted was a peculiar kind of landscape, made of everyday objects, such as bottles and glasses, displayed on a table. The simplicity of his still-life canvases and the objects portrayed is reflected in the limited palettes used by the artist to define them. His language is only apparently banal, but rather serves as an almost meditative take on everyday life and the beauty that surrounds each one of us, even when we fail to see it. Morandi’s works hold a special kind of aura and quietness that turn his works into contemporary icons (fig. 2).



Fig. 2 – Giorgio Morandi, Still life, 1951 (© Mondadori; Getty Images)



Through the simplicity of the subjects and their slow production, Morandi’s artworks truly reflect the artist’s spirit and his way of observing the world we live in. He rarely left Italy, but still managed to establish himself as one of the most sought-after artists of his generation, even on an international level. The best markets for Morandi are the Unites States first and Italy in second place – the top three fine art actions results in 2020 were all for Morandi’s works. Nevertheless, Giorgio Morandi’s works have established themselves on the Asian market, and particularly the Chinese market, in the most recent years. His soft palettes and the delicate intimacy of his works are very appreciated in China, where a solo show on the artist was held at the M Woods Museum in Beijing in 2021. His still-life paintings continue to be regularly sold for more than a million US dollars at auctions (fig. 3-4).



Fig. 3 – Giorgio Morandi’s auction value from 2000 to 2021 (© Artprice.com)



Fig. 4 - Morandi’s auction turnover from 2010 to 2020 (© Artprice.com)