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In the footsteps of Giorgio Morandi with Lorenzo Balbi

Posted on 12 May 2021 From Bologna Welcome

In this promenade, we will be accompanied by…

Lorenzo Balbi, since 2017 art director of the MAMbo Modern Art Museum.

We’ve just arrived in Bologna. Where should we start from?

Like any self-respecting itinerary seeking to retrace the life and works of the great Bolognese artist Giorgio Morandi, this journey starts from the world’s most complete collection of his artworks, the Morandi Museum, currently hosted inside the former halls that were once used as bread furnace within the spaces of the MAMbo Museum. His famous still lives can be admired here, together with an extensive collection of peaceful landscapes, engravings, drawings and watercolours, highest expression of the Italian Twentieth Century.

Giorgio Morandi collection's entrance in MAMbo

After leaving the historic building in via Don Minzoni and before visiting the artist’s house of via Fondazza, we stop off at the Accademia di Belle Arti, where Morandi taught etching techniques from 1930 to 1956, and where his original printing press is still today used by the Academy’s students. Just next to the Academy, don’t miss the National Gallery, where Morandi would often study some of the Bolognese canvases of the 17th century, with peculiar regard to those painted by Guido Reni.

National Gallery

Which places marked Morandi’s life the most? 

Ascending along via Zamboni and walking past the many historic seats of the world’s oldest university, you first reach Piazza Aldrovandi and the four-sided portico of the adjacent Church of Santa Maria dei Servi, to which Morandi was particularly attached and where he used to admire a precious panel with a Madonna by Cimabue, before crossing the central Strada Maggiore and finally heading towards his house in via Fondazza. Morandi’s House, the climax of our trip, is located at number 36 of this low-porticoed street, and once hosted the artist, his mother and his three sisters from 1910 until his death in 1964.

Morandi House, the studio. Photo: Roberto Serra

After being renovated and opened to the public in 2009, the house-museum represents a unique space for exploring the artist’s life and artworks and reliving the typical atmosphere of his paintings down to the least detail. Morandi’s studio, with the several objects and original models he used for his canvas, together with the colour experiments on the walls and his personal library, with more than 600 volumes, can be still seen in this place. A faithful reconstruction of the original spaces, completed by original furnishings and some works of ancient art once belonging to the family, together with a focused selection of photographs, books and documents displayed in the various cases, will guide you through this piece of memory.

Morandi House details. Photo: Roberto Serra

And then?

To end our experience on a high note, we should definitely visit the Apennine town of Grizzana, less than an hour from Bologna, where the artist would spend the summer months with his family since 1913. It was only in 1963 that Morandi had a house built there, with a sober and bright studio, well-lit by a series of windows through which he could behold and portray the surrounding landscape. Here, in this small and grim hamlet, apparently frozen in time, the artist’s house and studio have remained unchanged, with every room and every object preserved as Morandi and his sisters left them. Still today, it is possible to stroll along the same trails that would once be walked on by the artist, and to enjoy the typical harsh and dry nature of Grizzana, which, according to the artist, mirrored his timid and introverted temperament perfectly, reflected in turn through the clean and raw air of his contemplative paintings. 


View of Grizzana Morandi.Photo: Elisa Maria Cerra

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