The Paintings of Giorgio Morandi

1228413113-large Arthur Danto in The Nation:

The paintings of Giorgio Morandi express an apparent humility of means underwritten by a life of seemingly total dedication to art. His works are searching, unassuming and small, 30 by 40 centimeters being the average dimensions of a canvas. They are imbued with a muted passion and appear to be unconcerned with anything beyond their manifest subject: simple houses set in dull landscapes or still lifes composed of the most ordinary household objects, bottles chiefly, but also nondescript boxes, carefully placed and painted with a diffident touch in matte pinks, pale yellows, pistachio and colors that have no name–the color of putty, say, or baked unglazed clay. Once he settled into his mature style, Morandi invariably titled his painting Natura morta if it was a still life or Paesaggio if it was a landscape. One irresistible Natura morta, painted in 1953, depicts five objects arranged in two rows. The front row contains a box painted with three wide horizontal stripes of white and muddy brown, a buttery yellow box and a grayish brown box, all rendered in slightly distorted perspective. The striped box and the yellow box occlude a black, handleless cup and an ornamental glass carafe with a wide lip and twisted neck. The group, which stands in a washed-out background of indeterminate color, casts a collective shadow to the right. The gray box seems almost to be shoving the yellow box at its side, exerting such a strong force that it distorts the edge where their tops meet.