Nature Morte


Pencil on paper

Nature Morte depicts two still lives by the Italian artist, Giorgio Morandi, who is best known for his small paintings of domestic objects arranged on tabletops using pared-down shapes and a limited palette. Morandi also produced a large body of prints representing the same subject matter. Once he had printed a full edition, he would deliberately score or bash the printing plate, meaning he could still see his original picture but any attempt to make subsequent prints would produce a distorted image. I visited an exhibition in Morandi’s hometown of Bologna which contained a number of prints that had been made from these damaged plates. I took some photos of them, and then some more of a wall of paintings I liked. At this point I was asked to stop taking photos by the museum guard as photography was prohibited, and I was advised that I should delete them from my camera or obtain copyright permission, neither of which I did.

Nature Morte represents the combining of imagery from each of the two gently fraudulent acts: pictures of the paintings I liked overlaid with marks Morandi used to damage his printing plates. The work also points to an anecdote that the curator Walter Hopps told in an interview in Artforum in 1996. In the early 1960s when he was running Ferus in Los Angeles with Robert Blum, he organised a Morandi retrospective as one of the gallery’s annual international modern art shows. He returned to the gallery after a business trip and discovered that Blum had not put an image by Morandi on the invitation card. Fearing that Morandi was not sufficiently well-known to west-coast audiences, Hopps took one of the drawings in the exhibition to his office and made a tracing of it for the invitation. Blum objected on the basis that it was fakery, but Hopps was more worried about his terrible drawing skills (he was not, and had never been, an artist). However, the invitation went out and nobody seemed to notice that the image was not of a genuine Morandi.

Once I completed Nature Morte, I finally deleted the images from my camera and my computer.

Exhibited in:


The Tetley, Leeds (24 Sept 2019 → 19 Jan 2020)