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Mary Ellen Bartley: MORANDI’S BOOKS

Museo Morandi
31 January - 7 July 2024

The photographs of American artist Mary Ellen Bartley, whose work explores the formal and tactile qualities of the book, are the result of her residency in Bologna in 2020. After visiting Morandi's studio and house, she began working on Morandi's Books, a photographic series of her own compositions built around Morandi’s book collection, which today is preserved at the house-museum in Via Fondazza. In Bartley’s hands, volumes on Corot, Ingres, Piero della Francesca, Rembrandt, and Cézanne, who the Bolognese master considered his own masters, become the silent interlocutors of these still lives, coexisting at times with objects and tin boxes taken out of the dust of the artist's studio and brought back to life in a new medium, that of photography, in an effort to revitalize them with discrete aesthetic dignity in addition to formal value.

In her methodological approach, Bartley pays homage to Morandi’s core concerns of light, color, and geometry to convey and highlight values like simplicity, silence, peace, order, meditation, and reflection, all of which are increasingly threatened within our contemporary social fabric. These two artists, although working in different time periods and artistic media, become united by the search for what’s essential and a close attention to the simplest things.

This exhibition is part of an initiative that the Morandi Museum has been forging for years: establishing connections between the work of contemporary artists and that of the Bolognese master, in order to shed light on the current cultural impact of Morandi’s work and reaffirm his prominence in the global cultural imaginary, and more particularly his influence on international visual art.

Opening: Tuesday 30 January at 5 pm.

Image: Mary Ellen Bartley, Large White Bottle and Shadow, 2022