New York

Giorgio Morandi

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This exhibition of some 110 of Giorgio Morandi’s works—mostly paintings, but also a fair share of watercolors and etchings—is simply beautiful. But how such bliss was achieved is not quite so beautifully simple.

Morandi (1890–1964) lived quietly in Bologna, painting humble, seemingly generic still lifes and landscapes over the course of decades, despite the turbulent shifts taking place just beyond his calm purview. To be sure, such single-mindedness may reflect contempt for or ignorance of contemporaneous “avant-garde” developments, a willed insularity perhaps not unwarranted. Of course, avant-garde is a relative term. Apart from a few individuals—Lucio Fontana comes to mind—Italian modern art has never foregone the still life, the landscape, or the human figure, no matter which post-Renaissance century the series may happen to be.

But this survey of rarely seen works, co-organized by the

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