The spring exhibition at the Palazzo dei Diamanti
presents the engravings of Giorgio Morandi with a collection of over 130 works made by the artist over the course of his career.
From Dürer to Parmigianino, from Rembrandt to Piranesi, from Goya to Picasso; the history of etching is an important chapter in the history of art. For Morandi, this was true. He regarded etching as an medium of artistic expression on par with painting at a time, which was only a century ago, in which prints were considered less important.
He began creating etchings in 1910-11, about the same time that he began painting. He continued to create etchings until a few years before his death in 1964. He was self-taught, but with patience and persistence, he experimented with various techniques until he gained a mastery of engraving and its capabilities in rendering volumes, forms, and light. After a period of intense experimentation during almost of all the early Twenties, etching emerged as his preferred technique.
Referring to the works of his illustrious predecessors in this expressive language, such as Parmiganino, Federico Barocci and in particular Rembrandt, masters whose works differed greatly from his pictorial interests, Morandi went on to explore the full range of effects that could be achieved through the medium, reaching and anticipating, in graphic works limited to black and white, the effects of formal construction and chiaroscuro which became the fundamental elements during these specific phases of his artistic creativity. At times, in fact, it was etching that was the driving force behind his pictorial quest.
Many studies have made clear the artists original contribution within the context of international contemporary art. Others have focused on his poetics in the light of a more individual approach or have analyzed the unique language of engraving. Today, in order to take such studies further, we need to find a synthesis that shows Morandi the etcher within the simplicity of his greatness.
This exhibition is curated by Luigi Ficacci and organized jointly by Ferrara Arte, the Galleries of Modern and Contemporary Art of Ferrara and the MAMbo - Museum of Modern Art of Bologna. The exhibition aims to demonstrate how, for the artist, etching was the determining point in transfiguring the subject into chiaroscuro, making no attempt at realistic representation but yet remaining true to the observable; all the while avoiding the arbitrariness of abstraction. Still lifes with jars and bottles, bunches of flowers drawn in with an unequalled fineness as with the tip of the pen, the plastic forms of shells arranged on tables, and the familiar, intimate atmosphere of the landscapes become, through variations in the hatchings, images that are at once recognizable as belonging to an existing reality and to perception, but also motifs which are unquestioningly expressive, emerging and fading only through their forms. The artistic path undertaken over the course of his engravings reveals that, for Morandi, etchings were the best medium of meditation, one which allowed him to gather the essence of existence.
The works are displayed chronologically. Morandi published his engravings at different times, often long after he had actually made them and after radical revisions, and according to a logic revealing his willingness to intervene in the dynamics of contemporary art. For these reasons, a chronological reconstruction of the influences and reactions of artists and critics at the time of the exhibition of his works is presented in the catalogue. Other than the essays of Giovanni Romano and Luigi Ficacci, the catalogue also contains discusses each engraving, identifying the key points for an essential philology and analysis of the evolution of his style.