Composition Analysis: Morandi’s Still Life’s

Giorgio Morandi is Italy’s most famous 20th century still life painter. He lived from 1890 – 1964 and is most remembered and renowned for his extensive body of still life paintings (called natura morta in Italian).


Giorgio Morandi’s still life paintings are instantly recognizable for their muted color palette, subdued and unsophisticated subject matter, and quiet simplicity.


Morandi’s subject matter gravitated towards everyday objects that could be found in any kitchen – such as jars, ceramic bowls and vases, bottles, pitchers, jugs and boxes. These objects are familiar, yet they are purposely stripped of any identifying marks such as labels. This lends the objects a sense of anonymity and universality – these objects could easily come from anyone’s kitchen. They could even be found on the shelves of your own cupboard.

The objects are placed on a nondescript tabletop, grouped together in various arrangements. The key factor is that these domestic objects are utterly unremarkable. They are not loud and ostentious. They do not demand our attention. These are not the objects of the rich and famous. Instead, they are silently humble. They represent a reality that is not dressed to impress. By focusing on objects that are commonplace, he shines a light on the functional objects we use everyday that are often overlooked and taken for granted.


This art piece gives me the feeling of looking at a number of items/goods in a supermarket/grocery store. The warm tones used in this painting is cheery and happy.

Although the composition of Giorgio Morandi’s still life paintings look deceptively simple, he would spend weeks obsessively shuffling the objects around to get just the right placement. He would experiment with different combinations of objects overlapping and placed next to each other in a variety of ways, looking for the right medley of forms.

The perspective of his still life paintings is always looking straight on at them, or looking down at them. There is a certain mysterious ambiguity to the location of Morandi’s still life set-ups. Because it’s impossible to pinpoint a specific location or identify the owners of the objects, the paintings enjoy an anonymous, silent quality.


There is a silent quality about this painting possibly because of the dark and cool colours used and the dark background creates a very dramatic atmosphere against the bright white lighting coming from the left. The shadows created on the right also supports the dramatic feeling. The composition of the artwork is 1/3 where the white vase on the right blocks out a good amount of light grey.



Morandi works in a painterly style, in which the brushstrokes are visible and thus become an important part of the composition. He is not concerned with hiding the brushstrokes to create a smooth surface appearance. Instead, he paints in such a way that the quality and handling of the paint have as much contemplative importance as the objects he is painting.