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.

Kyle Stavers, Composition Study


In kyle staver’s painting of a couple in the bathroom, the feeling is intimate, almost comedic and warm. The translucency of the shower curtains draws me in as it is the lightest part of the painting and it cuts the painting into two equal halves. The lady on the left is painted in a darker shade compared to the man in the bath tub on the right. She is also placed in a higher position and in a smaller scale compared to the man. This balances the artwork as the man is in a lighter shade and he captures more attention. The shower head above the man sets the tone and atmosphere of the painting and we can feel that he is in a more enclosed space as compared to the lady on the left. The man submerged in water is also well painted although faintly but we can tell that the bath tub is filled. The warm tones of the bathroom tiles under the lady creates a kind of action and motion to the painting and we can feel that somehow the lady is moving or hustling faster than the man on the right is. Overall, I enjoy the atmosphere created in this indoor painting of the couple sharing a toilet on a daily basis.




In this second artwork of Kyle Staver, my eyes are directed to the blood on the knife held by the big man on the left. The knife cuts the artwork into 2/3, diagonally, with the man in a redder shade on the left and the man with the right orangey tone on the right. I really enjoy how this painting has no definite context of time or space and the audience is able to create the situation on their own. The way the animal from the right swoops into the redder man on the left creates motion and direction for the audience’s eyes. The colour of the sky shines behind the man on the left. The skin tone for the man on the left is very interesting as it shows a sense of violence and tension and the way his back is arched behind is unusual and it raises curiosity.



Lastly, this painting shows two people in a free fall motion and frozen in time. Similar to the second painting, it does not have a definite time or space and it is up to the audience to guess where is this place and when is it. To me, it feels like it in the morning however they have fallen into a very big pot or vase and they are reaching the bottom of it. This must not have been earth because of the way the lady is falling (right side), she seems to be almost floating and being pushed upwards off the ground. The semi-circle on the bottom frames the artwork and it makes the place looks somehow contained. The light falling on the chest of the man and the lady. The light source seems to come from the left top corner. This piece is very interesting because of the perspective of the man free falling. The way he is cropped is draws attention to the way and dynamics of the way he is falling and dragged down by gravity whereas the lady is pushed off the ground.