Morandi’s Studio


Morandi Stillife

In October a Facebook friend, Isreal Hershberg, posted an album of photos of Morandi’s studio in Bologna,  Italy. The house in Via Fondazza 36, in which Giorgio Morandi lived and worked from 1910 to 1964, opened to the public October 17, 2009.

Morandi lived with his three unmarried sisters in a dingy apartment in the northern Italian town.  He was unmarried and a loner, perhaps even suffering from agoraphobia. His bedroom was his studio. In this hermetic world, each painting took up to two months to complete. He did not stray from this subject matter.

Artist’s studios reveal a lot about the artist. What colors they live with, what they read, what materials they use and how they organize their space. In Morand’s case, it is remarkable to me that the color in the studio is so close to the color that he used in his paintings.

Morandi's Studio

Morandi’s Studio Photographed by Isreal Hershberg

This quote describes Morandi’s work better than I could:

“Morandi’s unwavering commitment to a particular subject matter, often repeatedly depicting even the same stark objects, caused derision from his critics who interpreted his art as old-fashioned, vernacular “genre painting” unconcerned with content and modern ideals.  However, though his art may seem reductive and simplistic initially, it is precisely those narrow boundaries established through his focus on one theme that allowed for a thorough exploration of formal concerns and relationships of form, space, and light. His works are eloquent statements about perception and the process of seeing.” [Paul Thiebaud Gallery press release]


Morandi Still Life

Morandi's studio

Morandi’s Studio photographed by Isreal Herhberg

Morandi's studio

Morandi’s Studio Photographed by Isreal Hershberg

Morandi's studio

Morandi’s Studio Photographed by Isreal Hershberg

Even in this space, one feels the care of placement and the consideration of the relationship of one object to another.

If you go:

Museo Morandi

Or order from your local independent books seller. Mine is Battenkill Books. Find the independent bookstore closest to you at

About Isreal Hershberg and the Jeruselem School of Art



Cezanne’s Hat

A couple of years ago, I made an extremely short visit to the south of France, which basically left me with one day to do something special. A friend threw me into his car and said that there was a Cezanne show in Aix-en-Provence and he was taking me.

As we headed west from Nice just as we passed La Napoule the landscape turned from white to red. The colors along the coast are very specific to the locations: the ultramarine blue of the water around Antibe, the white hills behind Nice, the Prussian blue of the water near St. Tropez and the deep rust red of the landscape along the coast. As you head inland toward Aix, the red modulates to ochre and rust dotted with the deep green of the pines.

Seeing Cezanne in Aix gives you the double whammy of seeing his work and then immediately observing the landscape that inspired it.

After the exhibition we searched for Cezanne’s studio, which had  been restored and opened to the public through the efforts of James Lord and John Rewald. I am a big fan of both Lord, who wrote an extraordinary biography of Giacometti and Rewald, whose texts on Impressionism and Post-Impressionism are must reads for anyone interested in the subject.

Cezanne’s Studio

When we arrived at the studio, despite the fact that it was supposed to be open that day, it was CLOSED! They were having a special viewing of it for the Smithsonian — damn Yankees!! And was closed to the public. My friend was undeterred and told them in no uncertain terms that I was an artist (something that matters to the French) and I had come all the way from America just to see the studio. Whatever else he said, I don’t know, but moments later I was ushered into the studio.

Cezanne's Studio

Exterior of Cezanne’s Studio

Cezanne exiting his studio with a chair

The studio was painted a dark gray (darker than it appears in the photos) made by mixing peach black, yellow ocher and little white. I know. I asked. There was a small window facing south and a large one to the north. On the back wall were items Cezanne used in his still lifes: a skull, a plaster of a putti, some vases, bowls and apples. There was also his small table that frequently appears in his still lifes.

Interior of Cezanne’s Studio

The back wall of Cezanne’s studio

Plaster Putti

paint box

Cezanne’s Paint Box

In the north wall was a tall slender “door”, perhaps a foot wide, where he would slide his large canvases in and out of the studio. He built it to accommodate his huge paintings of bathers.

studio door

Small door can be seen left of the stove. No, not that one. Keep going. To the left of the picture on the wall that is left of the stove.

Through the windows you could see the large pine trees, which are often two feet in diameter, that are typical of the region. They are the trees that appear in the bathing paintings.

Cezann’es Bathers

In the corner of the room on  a coat rack were his hat and coat, just as he had left them. What I would have given to put on his coat and hat.

Cezanne'e Coat Rack

Cezanne’s Coat Rack


If you go:

Cezanne’s Studio

Books, books, and more books:

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