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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Civilization


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Natura Morta (Still Life): Giorgio Morandi, 1943, oil on canvas, 22.8 x 35.3 cm (Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden/Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.)



After inside upheavals, it is important to fix on imperturbable things. Their imperturbableness, their air that nothing has happened renews our guarantee. Pictures would not be hung plumb over the centers of fireplaces or wallpapers pasted on with such precision that their seams make no break in the pattern if life were really not possible to adjudicate for. These things are what we mean when we speak of civilization: they remind us how exceedingly seldom the unseemly or unforeseeable rears its head. In this sense, the destruction of buildings and furniture is more palpably dreadful to the spirit than the destruction of human life.


Elizabeth Bowen: from The Death of the Heart, 1938




Still Life (Natura morta): Giorgio Morandi, 1959, oil on canvas, 30.5 x 35.4 cm (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond)

Natura morta (Still Life)
  
Natura morta (Still Life): Giorgio Morandi, 1952, oil on canvas, 54.29 x 59.37 cm (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art)

8 comments:

TC said...

Ellizabeth Bowen called The Death of the Heart a "pre-war" novel, "a novel which reflects the time, the pre-war time with its high tension, its increasing anxieties, and this great stress on individualism. People were so conscious of themselves, and of each other, and of their personal relationships because they thought that everything of that time might soon end."

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

Ah Morandi, his "imperturbable things . . . their air that nothing has happened" -----

4.30

light coming into sky above still black
ridge, waning white moon above branches
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

position appeared in “space,
distance and interval”

in reverse, sequence s step
between them, whereas

sun rising in branches at top of ridge,
moon in cloudless blue sky above point

TC said...

Steve,

Oh Morandi. The stillness and serenity of the work make it seem timeless -- a silent music, unmoved yet moving.

Morandi Meditation

Wooden Boy said...

It's hard to imagine a place where life is as still as Morandi's paintings.

"...no break in the pattern..."

"...because they thought that everything of that time might soon end".

Such careful attention to self and to the world, to things, is hard. Each painting could disappear with
the next stroke all that disarray let in.

Nora said...

What a lovely video.

Marie W said...

Ceaseless
fugacious Blossoms
Have caught an Ephemeral
Fever.
for the Time being / an Interlude
Our perpetual Theater
rotated once more around its
Imperishable Axis
The mayfly's wings are made of
Clay

Sandra said...

the culture of the disposable...

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

Rose-cheekt Giorgio, come
Sing thou smoothly with thy beawties
Silent musick. . .