Home Art Project 4: Morandi’s Still Life


Giorgio Morandi Natura Morta (1946)


Italian artist Giorgio Morandi dedicated himself to painting still life compositions. He focused upon objects arranged in such way as to emphasise the relationship of objects to each other and their place in the space. Also upon the subtle gradations of hue, and tone.

Although Morandi also painted landscapes and a few self-portraits, it was the through still life that he could explore tone, colour, and compositional balance through a collection of familiar bottles and vases. The paintings are executed economically, resisting detail in favour of broader areas of desaturated tone. This approach describes the objects while maintaining an acute awareness of the abstract relationships in the composition.

The composition’s quivering edges and coarsely brushed application of paint, combined with a sense of the mass of the objects (derived from the heavy opaque paint, subtle tone and description of the light on the subject) gives them a lively, timeless, stillness.


Giorgio Morandi Natura Morta (1953), Wikiart


This project is the making of your own still life inspired by Morandi.

  • Choose a collection of bottles vases and perhaps a smaller box. Morandi’s colour tends to be desaturated, emphasising the subtle tonal relationships. In my examples below, I have briskly painted the bottles with acrylic titanium white paint which is tinted with yellow ochre in places. I found a Lego building board to create a shift in tone in the background.
  • Note that in many of Morandi’s compositions there is considerable space around the objects, so you will need to think about the whole composition and the space around the objects. Also think about how the objects relate to each other. Are they touching each other or is there a slither of light between them, or are they apart?
  • When you have created your still life, make a few sketches thinking about all the elements mentioned above. When you are ready, make a final drawing or painting, continuing to refine the tonal and colour relationships, thinking about how the marks you make effect the work.


Giorgio Morandi Natura Morta, Wikiart


Children’s text

Giorgio Morandi focused on painting simple every day objects like bottles vases and boxes. He focused upon tone (light and dark), colour which was often very soft and how the objects sat next to each other. He also thought a lot about the space around the objects.

For this project, find a few objects you like and experiment with placing them together until you find a way in which they look good together. Think about the background also, in my example above I found a Lego building board to create a shift in tone in the background.

Using pencil or pastel, make a drawing of the objects.


Example of a still life in the style of Morandi