Morandi 1890-1964

The Great Exhibition at Palazzo Reale

5 october 2023 – 4 february 2024

Giorgio Morandi: Natura morta, Fondazione Magnani-Rocca, Mamiano di Traversetolo  (Parma)

Giorgio Morandi: Natura morta, Fondazione Magnani-Rocca, Mamiano di Traversetolo (Parma)

Morandi 1890-1964

“I believe that there is nothing more surreal, and nothing more abstract than reality”
Giorgio Morandi

Morandi 1890-1964 is an exhibition curated by Maria Cristina Bandera. Because of the quantity and quality of works on display, it is one of the most important and comprehensive retrospective exhibitions on the Bologna-born painter held in the last few decades. It perfectly falls in line with the deep appreciation for Morandi’s work in prestigious international venues, from the Metropolitan Museum in New York (2008), to the Pushkin in Moscow (2017), and the Guggenheim in Bilbao (2019).

The exhibition Morandi 1890 – 1964, curated by Maria Cristina Bandera, is promoted by the Municipality of Milan | Culture, produced by Palazzo Reale, Civita Mostre e Musei and 24 ORE Cultura – Gruppo 24 ORE, Unipol Group – main sponsor –, and Bper banca, the exhibition sponsor. Finestre sull’Arte is the media partner.


Morandi 1890-1964 in Milan

“We conceived this exhibition for Milan, the city which first realized the importance and originality of Morandi’s pictorial research, thanks to its enlightened collectors and its gallery of choice”
Maria Cristina Bandera

Indeed, Morandi’s first major collectors – i.e. Vitali, Feroldi, Scheiwiller, Valdameri, De Angeli, Jesi, Jucker, Boschi Di Stefano, and Vismara, who have donated parts of their collections to the city – were from Lombardy or lived in Milan. Further, Galleria del Milione, with which the painter had a privileged relationship, was also based in Milan.

An exhibition corpus of about 120 works traces the entire oeuvre of the Bologna-born artist – fifty years of activity, from 1913 to 1963 – by means of outstanding loans from leading public institutions and prestigious private collections. 

The exhibition follows a chronological order with targeted and unprecedented comparisons with other artists, documenting Morandi’s stylistic evolution and modus operandi. It features 34 sections narrating the various phases in the Maestro’s art.

Giorgio Morandi: Natura morta - Fondazione Magnani-Rocca, Mamiano di Traversetolo, Parma

Giorgio Morandi: Natura morta – Fondazione Magnani-Rocca, Mamiano di Traversetolo, Parma

Giorgio Morandi: Natura morta - FAI - Fondo per l'ambiente italiano ETS - Collezione Gian Ferrari, Villa Necchi Campiglio

Giorgio Morandi: Natura morta – FAI – Fondo per l’ambiente italiano ETS – Collezione Gian Ferrari, Villa Necchi Campiglio

The Exhibition Route

“In Morandi’s paintings, apparently so simple and rigorous, there is always a place, a vantage point to
spy on infinity, the infinity also of his poetry, so calm and subdued”

Bernardo Bertolucci

Between Cézannism, Cubism, and Futurism (1913-1918, Sections 1-3): An outstanding group of seven works from before his best-known metaphysical season opens the first two rooms, focusing on Morandi’s contact with the avant-garde. He painted only thirty-four of them, from among his youthful artworks that he did not destroy.

The Metaphysical Climate (1918-1919, Section 4): Morandi’s metaphysical season opens in one of the most striking rooms of the exhibition, with three masterpieces from the Pinacoteca di Brera (former Jesi collection), the Museo del Novecento in Milan (former Jucker collection), and the Fondazione Magnani-Rocca di Mamiano di Traversetolo.

Back to Real (1919-1920, Sections 5-6): Already in the second half of 1919, his metaphysical tension ebbed: in keeping with ‘back to order’, Morandi also returned to reality and tradition by joining the ‘Valori Plastici’ group. This transition is marked by an extraordinary sequence of works from 1919 and 1920. The portrayed items – some of the most common everyday life items – now stripped of all ambiguity or magic, leave the rarefied atmospheres of metaphysics, while resuming their perspective and plastic likeliness.


The Experimentation of the 1920s (1921-1929, Sections 7-10): in three of the most significant rooms, Morandi’s remarkable experimenting during the 1920s continues: all his main themes – landscapes, still lives, flowers – are laid out, to achieve an outstanding range of unprecedented solutions on which he would keep working his whole life.

Engraving and the Tonal Conquest (1928-1929, Section 11): In these years Morandi was defining his artistic language. He was intensively practicing with etching, with which he would produce some of the most impressive artistic results in 20th century Italy.
Experimenting with just two (black and white) colours helped Morandi test the reduction of colour to two fundamental hues in painting too. His progressive conquest of tonal painting in the 1920s is unparalleled in Italy and Europe in those times.

The Crucial Years (1930s, Section 12): the 1930s open with a significant room dedicated to landscapes. This theme is recurring from the very beginning, accounting for just less than a fifth of Morandi’s entire corpus. He would often switch between landscapes and still lives, in some sort of balancing act, as if he were testing on the real world what he was recreating in his room.

The 1940s (1940-1949, Sections 13-20): we enter the great sequence of the 1940s. Five central sections with more than thirty works document a turning point in Morandi’s career, a new impulse of simplification linking this season to the next – the final – one.

The 1950s (1950-1959, Sections 21-28): the 1950s move on a path of progressive simplification. His increasingly essential compositional structure is permeated with imperceptible geometric and perspective shifts, reminding of the abstractions of his youth.

Watercolours (1956-1963, Section 29): an entire room – with a set of nine works – is dedicated to his great watercolour season, which Morandi practiced with intensity from 1956 onwards. In just eight years, he would produce over two hundred and fifty watercolour paintings.

Final Years (1960-1963, Sections 30-34): the 1960s are Morandi’s last season. His untiring variations on motifs would produce increasingly complex intuitions, leading to formal stylization bordering on either abstraction or architectural construction. Fifteen significant works, on display in the last two rooms, ideally close Morandi’s fifty-year long artistic itinerary.

Giorgio Morandi: Natura morta - Museo del Novecento, Milan

Giorgio Morandi: Natura morta – Museo del Novecento, Milan

Buy Tickets for Morandi 1890-1964

    Guided tours with curator Maria Cristina Bandera

    • Guided tour with the exhibition’s curator (in italian).€ 15.00 (reservation fee: € 2.00)
      Until places are available. Visits are scheduled for the following dates: thursday 9 November at 6.30 p.m., saturday 11 November at 11 a.m., saturday 2 December 2023 at 11 a.m., saturday 16 December 2023 at 11 a.m. and thursday 21 December 2023 at 6.30 p.m.

    Tickets for Morandi 1890-1964 Exhibition

    (15-25 visitors per group/school: entry slots every 15 minutes; 30 individual visitors: entry slots every 15 minutes)

    • Open € 17.00
      (reservation fee: € 2.00)
    • Standard € 15.00
      (reservation fee: € 2.00)
    • Discounted for groups € 13.00
      of at least 15 and maximum 25 visitors (reservation fee: € 2.00)
    • Discounted  for individual € 13.00
      visitors from 6 to 26 years old, visitors over 65, Touring Club members with card, FAI members with card, ticket holders of ‘Lunedì Musei’ programme (Poldi Pezzoli / Museo Teatrale alla Scala), military personnel, off-duty Law Enforcement officers, teachers, holders of concession cards (reservation fee: € 2.00)
    • Discounted for concession holders€ 10.00
      students up to 25 years, Musei Lombardia season ticket holders and Orticola members with a valid card for the current year, disabled individuals with less than 100% disability (reservation fee: € 2.00)
    • Discounted family € 10.00
      ticket (Adults):  for 1 or 2 adults with children aged 6 to 14 (reservation fee: € 2.00)
    • Discounted family € 6.00
      ticket (Children): for children aged 6 to 14 (reservation fee: € 2.00)
    • Discounted for schools€ 6.00
      for all types of school groups (reservation fee: € 2.00)
    • Discounted € 6.00
      Touring and FAI groups.
    • Discounted for individual visitors: € 6.00
      employees of the Municipality of Milan (they must show their badge – one accompanying person is entitled to a € 13.00 discounted ticket); volunteers of the Civil Service working for the Municipality of Milan (they must show their ID card); non-accredited journalists (they must show their Journalists’ Association membership card bearing the current year’s stamp) (reservation fee: € 2.00)
    • Discounted Milano Museo Card €12,00
      (reservation fee: € 2.00)
    • Free admission for children under 6, disabled people with 100% disability, 1 accompanying person, if required, for each disabled visitor; 1 accompanying person for each group; 2 accompanying persons for each school group; 1 accompanying person and 1 guide for each FAI or Touring Club group; employees of the Milan Superintendency of Architectural Heritage; ICOM card-holders; licensed tourist guides ; Supervision and Fire Brigade Board (they must show the relevant card); journalists accredited with the exhibition press office (they must provide name of Newspaper and specify the date of visit to the exhibition).

    Information about Morandi 1890-1964’s exhibition

    5 OCTOBER 2023 – 4 FEBRUARY 2024

    Palazzo Reale, Piazza del Duomo 12, Milan

    Nearest metro station: Duomo M1 M3 (130 meters)
    Reservation for groups and schools: send an e-mail to or call (+39) 02-89709022

    On Friday 17/11, the exhibitions at the Royal Palace
    will close at 17:30, and the ticket offices at 16:30


    5 October 2023 through 4 February 2024

    Opening Hour
    Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
    : 10 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. (ticket office closes at 6.30 p.m.)
    Thursday: 10 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. (ticket office closes at 9.30 p.m.)
    Closed on Mondays

    Giorgio Morandi: biographical notes

    Giorgio Morandi, in his studio in Bologna, 1953 (photo by Herbert List)

    Giorgio Morandi, in his studio in Bologna, 1953 (photo by Herbert List)

    From 1890 to 1922


    Giorgio Morandi was born in Bologna on 20 July, the first of five siblings.


    He enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, which he attended until 1913.


    He met Osvaldo Licini, a fellow Academy student. He visited the 8th Venice Biennale.
    He saw Cézanne’s early paintings reproduced in Vittorio Pica’s book Gl’impressionisti francesi (1908). He followed Ardengo Soffici’s articles in the magazine ‘La Voce’.


    He visited the 9th Venice Biennale, held after only one year from the previous one. It was an opportunity to see, among other things, paintings by Renoir, to whom an entire room was dedicated.
    In a trip to Florence he had the opportunity to study Giotto, Masaccio, and Paolo Uccello.


    He saw original works by Monet for the first time at the International Exhibition in Rome. Morandi’s first painting that has come down to us dates to this year (Landscape, V. 2).


    He engraved the first etching with a declared print run (The Bridge over the Savena in Bologna, V. inc. 1).


    He graduated from the Academy in Bologna and painted his first landscapes in Grizzana. He met the Bacchelli brothers, Riccardo a writer and Mario a painter.
    In the spring, he attended the Futurist Evening in Modena.


    In January, he visited the Futurist Painting Exhibition organized in Florence by the magazine ‘Lacerba’. He then attended the Futurist Evening at the Teatro del Corso in Bologna, where he met Umberto Boccioni and Carlo Carrà.
    On 20 March, his works were on display at the Hotel Baglioni in Bologna, for a one-night, two-day exhibition only, together with the works by Mario Bacchelli, Osvaldo Licini, Severo Pozzati, and Giacomo Vespignani.
    He took part in the First Free Futurist Exhibition at the Sprovieri Gallery in Rome, then in the Second Secession Exhibition, where he saw, among other things, a selection of watercolour paintings by Cézanne and some works by Matisse.
    He studied Giotto, first in Assisi, then in Padua.
    He began teaching drawing in primary schools, a position he held until 1930.


    Called up to arms in the 2nd Grenadier Regiment (due to his height). He fell seriously ill and was exempted from the army service.


    He spent the summer in a village – Tolè di Vergato – in the Emilian Apennines, and devoted himself to painting.


    He painted very few works, since he was seriously ill.


    Giuseppe Raimondi’s magazine ‘La Raccolta’ published in Bologna reproduced the etching Still life of Bottle and Pitcher dated 1915 (V. inc. 3).
    His friend Raimondi introduced him to the metaphysical works of Giorgio de Chirico and Carlo Carrà through reproductions of their works. He painted his first ‘metaphysical’ works. In this year, he met Mario Broglio who founded the magazine ‘Valori Plastici’.
    An initial review on Morandi was published in the daily newspaper ‘Il Tempo’ in an article by Riccardo Bacchelli.


    His first paintings were published in ‘La Raccolta’ and in ‘Valori Plastici’. From this year onwards, Mario Broglio bought his works and made them known to the general public.
    He met Carrà who visited his studio. In Rome, where he joined Raimondi, he met the literati of ‘La Ronda’ and de Chirico. On the same occasion, Raimondi accompanied him to study Caravaggio’s works in Roman churches and museums.


    He visited the Venice Biennale, where he had the opportunity to see the room dedicated to Cézanne set up in the French pavilion. He resumed engraving, which he had stopped in 1915.


    He exhibited alongside Carrà, de Chirico, Arturo Martini, Melli, Zadkine at the first exhibition of the ‘Valori Plastici’ group organized by Mario Broglio in Berlin.


    Together with de Chirico, Carrà and Arturo Martini he participated in the Fiorentina primaverile held in Florence. In the catalogue he was presented by Giorgio de Chirico.

    From 1926 to 1945


    He took part in the First Exhibition of the 20th Century held at the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan with three paintings.
    The Ente Nazionale della Cultura (National Education Board) appointed him, for just one year, director of primary schools in various small towns in the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia.


    He spent the summer in Grizzana, in the Emilian Apennines, where he would return every summer until 1932. His engraving activity becomes more intense.


    He participated in the 16th Venice Biennale with some engravings. A short Autobiography was published in the Bolognese magazine ‘L’Assalto’. Mino Maccari and Leo Longanesi wrote about him.


    He participated in the Second Exhibition of the 20th Century in Milan with three paintings, three etchings, and two drawings.


    He was assigned the chair of engraving technique at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Bologna for his ‘great renown’, a position he held until 1956.
    He participated in the 17th Venice Biennale with three paintings, two etchings, and a portfolio of engravings. His works were presented at the engraving exhibition at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.


    He participated in the 1st Quadriennale d’Arte Nazionale in Rome with three paintings and some engravings.


    He exhibited at the First Modern Italian Engraving Exhibition in Florence.
    Leo Longanesi’s magazine ‘L’Italiano’ dedicated a special issue to him with an essay by Ardengo Soffici and several reproductions of his paintings, etchings, and drawings.


    He participated in the 19th Venice Biennale with two engravings. In November, Roberto Longhi concluded his famous lecture at the University of Bologna by praising Morandi as ‘one of Italy’s best living painters’.


    He participated in the 2nd Quadriennale d’arte nazionale in Rome with four paintings and two etchings. He participated in the Exhibition of Ancient and Modern Italian Art in Paris.


    He exhibited at the Italian Art Exhibition in Berlin.


    He participated in the Italian Art Exhibition in Berne.
    On 15 October, on Soffici’s nomination, he was appointed ‘corresponding member’ of the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, the oldest Academy in the world founded in Florence by Giorgio Vasari in 1593.


    At the 3rd Quadriennale d’arte nazionale in Rome, a whole room was dedicated exclusively to his works, featuring forty-two paintings, nine etchings, and two drawings. He won the second prize for painting. Bruno Saetti was awarded the first prize.
    He sent his paintings to the Golden Gate International Exhibition of Contemporary Art in San Francisco and the Carnegie Prize in Pittsburgh.
    Cesare Brandi dedicated an essay to him in ‘Le Arti’. Arnaldo Beccaria published the first monograph on Morandi.
    In the summer, he returned to Grizzana where he would later spend long summer stays painting intensively.


    He exhibited at the Italian Art Exhibition in Zurich.


    Art historian Cesare Brandi published an important monograph on Morandi.


    He participated in the 4th National Art Quadrennial in Rome. Because of the war he had to leave Bologna and take refuge in Grizzana, where he stayed until 25 July 1944. During this period, he painted numerous landscapes.


    In April, in Florence that had just been liberated by the American allies, there was still no news about Morandi, who had been cut out in Bologna by the events of the war. Roberto Longhi dedicated a personal exhibition at Galleria Il Fiore, with twenty-one paintings by Morandi, writing a fundamental introduction to the exhibition catalogue. Pier Maria Bardi organized an exhibition of fifty of his paintings at the Studio d’Arte Palma in Rome.

    From 1947 to 1964


    Morandi was appointed a member of the figurative arts Committee in charge of organizing the first important Venice Biennale, which reopened in 1948 after a six-year hiatus. It offered him the opportunity to establish international contacts and get updated on the latest artistic events.


    He exhibited eleven paintings at the 25th Venice Biennale in the exhibition Tre pittori italiani dal 1910 al 1920 (Three Italian Painters from 1910 to 1920), together with Carrà and de Chirico. An international committee awarded him the Venice Award for an Italian Painter. He was appointed a member of the National Academy of San Luca in Rome.
    Carlo Alberto Petrucci presented an exhibition of eighty-eight of his engravings at the Calcografia Nazionale in Rome.


    He participated with thirteen paintings and five etchings in the major exhibition Twentieth- Century Italian Art curated by James Thrall Soby and Alfred H. Barr at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
    Giuseppe Raimondi dedicated a solo exhibition of graphic works to him at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.


    He exhibited at the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris (L’art italien moderne), at the Tate Gallery in London (Modern Italian Art), and won an award at the International Exhibition of Black and White in Lugano.


    He participated with one work in the important exhibition La nature morte de l’antiquité à nos jours curated by Charles Sterling at the Orangerie in Paris. He was appointed a member of the Swedish Academy.


    He was awarded the Grand Prize for Engraving at the 2nd Biennial of the Museu de Arte Moderna in São Paulo, Brazil, where he exhibited twenty-five etchings.


    Vitale Bloch and Lamberto Vitali dedicated an anthological exhibition to him with fifty-nine paintings and forty-three etchings at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, and later at the New Burlington Galleries in London.


    He participated in the 7th Quadriennale d’Arte Nazionale in Rome with seven paintings. In this year, his first solo exhibition was held at the Delius Gallery in New York. Interviewed by Peppino Mangravite, professor at Columbia University, the interview was broadcast by ‘The Voice of America’ in 1957.


    He went to Winterthur for a solo exhibition with fifty-six paintings, four drawings, and forty etchings that the Kunstmuseum dedicated to him alongside Giacomo Manzù. On this occasion, he visited the important Oskar Reinhart’s collection.


    The Venice Biennale organized the Sala especial with thirty paintings at the 4th International Biennial in São Paulo, Brazil. The catalogue’s introductory essay was written by Rodolfo Pallucchini. On this occasion, he won the Grand Prize for painting ahead of Marc Chagall.
    He presented six paintings and six etchings at the exhibition Italian Art since 1910 at the Grosse Kunstausstellung in Munich.
    He exhibited thirty-five paintings, two water-colours, ten drawings, and thirteen etchings in a solo exhibition at the World House Galleries in New York, presented by Lionello Venturi.
    Lamberto Vitali edited the general catalogue of L’opera grafica.


    He gave a crucial interview to Édouard Roditi who published it in 1960.
    He exhibited twelve etchings at the 5th International Black and White Exhibition in Lugano.


    He held another solo exhibition at the World House Galleries in New York.


    The city of Siegen in Germany dedicated a solo exhibition to him with nineteen paintings and thirteen etchings at the Haus Seel am Markt awarding him the Rubenspreis for painting.
    He was appointed ‘honorary academician’ of the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno in Florence.


    The Municipality of Bologna awarded him the ‘Archiginnasio d’Oro’.
    Galerie Krugier in Geneva organized a solo exhibition for him with forty-one paintings, seven drawings, and sixty-five etchings.


    A monograph dedicated to him by Lamberto Vitali was published in January. In February, he signed his last Still Life (V. 1342).
    He died on 18 June.
    In July, the seminal monograph edited by Francesco Arcangeli, originally rejected by Morandi, went to press.


    An exhibition promoted by

    palazzo Reale Comune di Milano Civita Mostre e Musei 24 Ore Cultura Gruppo 24 ore

    in partnership with

    Bologna Musei Museo Morandi

    Main sponsor

    Unipol Gruppo


    BPER Banca

    Media partner

    Finestre sull'Arte

    Palazzo Reale member of

    Europena Royal Residence