The ‘position of the viewer’ and ‘the space between things’ are two of the favourite philosophical playthings of art theorists. Michel Foucault’s famous, and it must be said fairly obvious, analysis of Manet’s paintings, including A Bar at the Folies-Bergere suggests that by playing with ideas of representation within the image, Manet in fact invented the ‘painting-object’ and thus opened up the possibility of getting ‘rid of representation itself and allow(ing) space to play with its pure and simple properties, its material properties’.
A couple of years ago I travelled to Bologna to see the show Morandi 1890-1964 at the MAMbo museum of his native city. I was stunned by how the quiet and modest paintings could absorbe me into their dusty atmosphere. It was as if I had moved beyond the position of the viewer and had slipped into the light, colour, subtle tensions and decisions over time contained in the paintings. Currently an exhibition Wayne Thiebaud and Giorgio Morandi is showing at MAMbo and if you click on the photo of Morandi above you will be taken to a video interview in which Thiebaud speaks perceptively about Morandi’s work, including the space between things.
An article Giorgio Morandi: Resistance and Persistence by Sean Scully can be found here.
Posted by Robert Armstrong