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Books on the Artist Giorgio Morandi

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Morandi is a 20th century Italian artist renowned for his serene still life paintings of bottles, in particular. (He also painted landscapes and flowers.) His work is distinctive not only for the subject matter (you'll see the same bottles in many paintings) but also his subdued palette, the way he reduced shapes to their basic forms rather than focusing on the details, and for eliminating reflections. These books on Morandi are all ones I've enjoyed and found helpful as I've studied his painting.

1. Giorgio Morandi's Studio

Books on the artist Giorgio Morandi
Photo ©2011 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
This isn't a book you buy for the words (it's in Italian and English, and the latter is a bit awkward in places) but for the black-and-white photos taken of Morandi's studio and his still life objects. As you study Morandi's paintings, you'll learn to recognize some of the bottles, and wonder why some never seem to have been included. There are glimpses of his working methods, such as the pencil markings of where objects stood for compositions, the dabs of paint where he's tested tones and colors, plus various bottles he painted to make matte. The photos don't have captions; they speak for themselves.
  • Photos by Gianni Berengo Gardin
  • Published by Charta, 2009.
  • ISBN 9788881587209, 104 pages, hardback. Size: approx 9.5x9.5 inches/ 24x24cm.
  • View sample pages (.pdf)

2. Giorgio Morandi : Paintings, Watercolours, Drawings, Etchings

Books on the artist Giorgio Morandi
Photo ©2011 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
I think this is a fabulous book for learning about Morandi as it looks at all four mediums he worked in (oil paint, watercolor, drawings, and etchings) and his landscapes as well as his still lifes. The reproductions are nicely printed, and the price won't break the bank. There's an interesting, accessible introduction to each medium, followed by a selection of works. While it's too small a book to include every single piece of Morandi's art, there's sufficient to compare and study satisfactorily.
  • Size: approx 8x9.5 inches, 20x24cm
  • Published by Prestel, April 2008.
  • ISBN 9783791339535. 168 pages. Paperback.

3. Giorgio Morandi: Works | Writings | Interviews

Books on the artist Giorgio Morandi
Photo ©2011 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
This is a book for when you want to take your study of Morandi up a notch. It contains a detailed overview of his life and work written by Karen Wilkin, a New York art curator and critic specializing in 20th century modernism, as well as by two shorter interviews with Morandi and three pieces of his own writing (autobiography and two letters). There are many photos of his oil paintings spanning his career, plus a few of objects in his studio and some watercolors. It's written in an accessible style, but it's not for readers with only a passing interest in the artist.
  • Published Ediciones Poligrafa, Spain, 2007.
  • ISBN 9788434311404. 160 pages. 130 illustrations. Hardback with cover. Size: approx 11x8.5 inches/ 28x21.5 cm

4. Giorgio Morandi : The Art of Silence

Books on the artist Giorgio Morandi
Photo ©2011 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
This is a "heavy duty" book on Morandi's life and work, as well as the context of Italian art and society in which he lived. Written by Janet Abramowicz, who was a teaching assistant and friend of Morandi's a friend, as well as a practicing artist and art lecturer at Harvard, it's informative and detailed, often fascinating, but takes dedication to get through.
  • Published by Yale University Press, 2005.
  • ISBN: 9780300100365. 288 pages. Hardcover. Size: approx 10.5x7.5 inches/ 27x19 cm.
  • 71 black-and-white and 41 color illustrations

5. Other Books on Morandi

There are, of course, several other books on the art and life of Morandi. One that's on my wishlist is the catalog from the 2008 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum and Museo d’Arte Moderna in Bologna: Giorgio Morandi 1890-1964: Nothing Is More Abstract Than Reality.

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