Blog post revisiting John Berger's 1955 essay on the work of Giorgio Morandi, republished on the occasion of an exhibition of Morandi paintings at David Zwirner Gallery, New York, on view through December 19, 2015.
Berger observes that Morandi's "pictures have the inconsequence of margin notes but they embody true observation. Light never convinces unless it has space to fill: Morandi’s subjects exist in space. However frayed, worked, muted the objects in his pictures may be, warm air surrounds them, the ground plane on which they stand comes forward, distances increase, and when one form comes to the front of another, one can calculate the exact number of inches or yards between them. His famous still-lifes of bottles have the same passive precision as his landscapes. One suspects that the bottles only contain a little water for sprinkling on the floor or eau-de-cologne for cooling the forehead—certainly nothing as strong as wine. Yet they convince—one suspends belief in the clamorous life outside the secluded room in which they stand—because of the accuracy of the contemplation that lies behind them: a contemplation so exclusive and silent that one is convinced that nothing else except Morandi’s cherished light could possibly fall on the table or shelf—not even another speck of dust."