Texts by Maria Cristina Bandera, Marco Franciolli, Simona Tosini Pizzetti, Siri Hustvedt, and Lawrence Carroll

Giorgio Morandi’s visual lexicon consisted of the most minimal of props—bottles, vases, pitchers, boxes—but from these humble forms he extrapolated a marvelous and decidedly modern metaphysics of objecthood and space. Morandi reinvented the still life for modern times, without ever having directly incorporated modern content into his pictures: “only we can know that a cup is a cup, that a tree is a tree,” he observed, concisely expressing the continued relevance of the still life in the twentieth century. Nothing could be clearer than a Morandi still life, with its mute tones of beige, grays, and off-whites, and its glyphic quality of cluster surrounded by spaciousness, and yet few artists have achieved such a singular atmosphere of absolute enigma. In this respect, Morandi is of the school of Vermeer and Chardin, practicing a devotional art of tranquility and privacy—“moods which I have always valued above all else,” as he once told an interviewer—finding whole new worlds in simple permutations of ordinary objects. This handsomely produced volume offers a detailed examination of Morandi’s paintings, watercolors, drawings, and etchings. Alongside the still lifes, it presents his landscapes, floral compositions and his well-known self-portrait, as well as various works by contemporary artists for whom Morandi has been a crucial precursor.