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Albers and Morandi: Never Finished

An unprecedented catalogue exploring the affinities and contrasts between Josef Albers and Giorgio Morandi—two of modern art’s greatest painters. 

Rarely seen together, the artwork of Josef Albers (1888–1976) and Giorgio Morandi (1890–1964) shares many similarities. Although they never met, both artists worked in series as they explored difference and potential through their distinctive treatment of color, shape, form, and morphology. They were also both influenced by Cezanne. As master illusionists and experts in proportion, they tackle similar conceits from different perspectives. Albers focused on the effects of subtle or bold changes and interactions in color, while Morandi made still lifes that treat simple objects as a cast of characters on a stage, exploring their relationship in space.
Published on the occasion of the critically acclaimed exhibition Albers and Morandi: Never Finished, the book illuminates the visual conversation between these two artists. With the exhibition hailed by The New Yorker’s Peter Schjeldahl as “one of the best … I’ve ever seen,” this publication brings this unusual, thought-provoking pairing to your home. Gorgeous reproductions are accompanied by a roundtable about form and color between the exhibition’s curator, David Leiber; Heinz Liesbrock, the director of the Josef Albers Museum Quadrat Bottrop, Germany; and Nicholas Fox Weber, the director of Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, as well as an essay by the Morandi expert and founder of the Center for Italian Modern Art, Laura Mattioli.

Josef Albers (1888–1976) is considered one of the most influential abstract painters of the twentieth century, as well as an important designer and educator. Albers was born in Bottrop, Germany, and studied briefly at the Königliche Bayerische Akademie der Bildenden Kunst, Munich, in 1919 before becoming a student at the Weimar Bauhaus in 1920. In 1933, he and Anni Albers emigrated to North Carolina, where they founded the art department at Black Mountain College. 

Giorgio Morandi was born in 1890 in Bologna, Italy, where he lived until his death in 1964. From 1907 to 1913, he was enrolled at the Bologna Accademia di Belle Arti, where he later served as the professor of engraving and etching from 1930 until 1956. By 1920, Morandi established the small-scale depictions of still lifes and landscapes that he would pursue throughout his oeuvre, and that were associated with no other school or style but his own. 

Laura Mattioli is the daughter of the important Italian collector Gianni Mattioli, who in 1949 acquired Pietro Feroldi’s collection that highlighted the relationship between Italian modernists and French Post-Impressionists, and which included works by Giorgio Morandi from the 1910s to the 1940s. With her father, Laura visited Morandi during her childhood and has lived with his paintings practically all her life. She holds a PhD in the history of art, and since 1984 she has managed her father’s collection, for which she has acquired additional works by Morandi. Mattioli has curated several exhibitions on the artist, including Last Morandi (1997–1998), in Verona and Venice; Giorgio Morandi: Late Paintings, 1950–1964 (2004), Lucas Schoormans Gallery, New York; and Giorgio Morandi et l’abstraction du réel (2010), Hotel des Arts, Toulon, France. In 2013, she founded the Center for Italian Modern Art, in New York, where she has presented two exhibitions on Morandi, in 2015–2016 and 2018–2019. 

"The Zwirner show is one of the best installed that I’ve ever seen...the soft cosmos of Morandi is both relieved and refreshed by the architectonics of Albers, and vice versa. The artists share an intensity of artistic vocation."

– Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker

"They were brothers in perseverance."

– Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker