The art of lesser known Italian artists: Macchiaioli e Morandi

The art of lesser known Italian artists: Macchiaioli e Morandi

Giovanni Arno was part of the Macchiaioli. Arno river in Florence

Melissa explores the simple, but beautiful art made by some Italian artists, known as Macchiaioli. 

I am a graphic designer, who originally wanted to be an Art Historian. I graduated with a Masters in Art and once upon a time I considered becoming a professor, in order to lecture about famous artists and art trends in front of students in a great big university hall. However, as for each one of us, life often throws us a curve ball, and we change our minds. In may case I decided to create art, instead of just talking about it.

I am happy with my choice, but sometimes I miss the chance to share my Art History knowledge with others. But, about six years ago, when the elementary school that my son attends asked me to be the director of their FAME program to teach art to children, I happily accepted. Today instead of talking in front of adults in a lecture hall, I dress up like Monet or Rembrandt, or a fine lady from one of Gainsborough’s paintings and talk about art to a small groups of elementary school children.

I love talking about all kinds of art and painters, but it gives me particular pleasure to speak to the kids about the Italian artists. There are so many famous Italian artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello, and Piero della Francesca, just to name some of the big boys! But there are also other Italian artists that perhaps many people haven’t even heard of. They may be less well known, but I think their art is quite beautiful and have even influenced my own style of painting.

Let’s begin with a group of painters that I adore. They are the Macchiaioli.
At the turn of the century this group of artists from Tuscany, Florence in particular, painted on small canvases but had a big effect on the art of the 18th century. They are called “the Macchiaioli” because they used small spots of color to create their forms. Like their counterparts the Impressionists in France, the Macchiaioli were interested in painting from nature. They stopped painting in the old academic style and chose instead to capture light, shadows and natural colors in a more authentic observance of the real world. The most notable painters of the group are Raffaello Sernesi, Vito D’Ancona and Giovanni Fattori. I like the simplicity of the painting style and how they use spots of color to create solid images that appear solid and architectural. When I look at the small paintings by the Macchiaioli I am impressed by their simple beauty.
Another artist, whose work that I find truly unique and serenely beautiful is that of Giorgio Morandi, an Italian artist of the twentieth century. In a sense there is something similar in the styles of Morandi and the Macchiaioli. Both  show an appreciation for simplicity and tranquility and truth in the observation of nature. Morandi said, “I am a painter of still life and I want to communicate a sense of tranquility and confidence, a state of mind that I am worth more.”
Morandi was a thoughtful man and concentrated his artistic efforts on the careful placement and arrangement of bottles and still life objects in order to capture the various interesting angles and surfaces on his canvases. He described his method like this: It sometimes takes weeks to fix the bottles, and still I am wrong with the spaces. Perhaps I’m working too fast?” Wonderful Morandi. I can learn a thing or two from you…that is to slow down to take the time to concentrate on all the angles and surfaces and appreciate the beauty in all things, large and small.
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