The painter, Giorgio Morandi – who lived
most of his seventy four years at
39 Via Fondazza, Bologna,
in a second floor apartment with his three
sisters, in the medaeval soul and heart
of La Grassa, with its imposing towers,
its red tiles, narrow streets, and arcades –
specialised in Natura Morta, Still Life.
The apartment and the Renaissance building
it houses have become a museum,
preserving his studio, and his props:
glazed ceramic vases, bottles, bowls, jars,
pitchers, kitchen utensils, and table cloths,
which appeared many times re-arranged,
in ochres, browns, greys, with their shadows falling
variously on a neutral background –
through two world wars, Mussolini’s rise and fall,
and mass migration to the industrial
north from all parts of the Mezzogiorno.
I have come to acknowledge Morandi’s
almost compulsive, obsessive focus
on the same small number of objects
in different conjunctions, depicted
with the same limited, disciplined palette,
the same minimalist and easily
adaptable format, capturing how,
at any given moment, things might have seemed.
There are no self-portraits, or depictions
of his sisters, or his dog, Pluto.
There are posed photos of him – serious,
in horn rimmed glasses, jacket and tie,
and always about to light up a Muratti.
Since he preferred “tranquillità e pace”
what would he have made of Via Fondazza
now it has become a ‘Social Street’?
One of its residents, to “combat urban
loneliness”, set up a private Facebook page.
Neighbours can put a name to a face,
and greet each other confidently in
the Osteria Della Fondazza or
Morandi Frutta Di Masood Maryam.
Maybe one of his neighbours would ring the bell
at 39 to present him with
a favourite jug or carafe to be
immortalised. Perhaps the oldest sister
would go down to the building’s main entrance,
open one of the double doors, and say
something ambiguous, enigmatic,
emollient, thus leaving the supplicant
not without hope.
BolognaGeorgio MorandiSocial Street