The exhibition, done in partnership with Galleria d’Arte Maggiore G.A.M., Bologna (Italy), features rarely-seen oil paintings by Giorgio Morandi, and a broad selection of Ryman paintings from private collections.
Michael Kohn, the gallery’s owner, has been a huge fan of Morandi for many years, and four years ago he bought his first work, “an exceptionally beautiful 1920 work on paper.” And at that moment he decided he wanted to organize a show as the last Morandi exhibit in LA was at the Ferus Gallery in 1960. Kohn continues that, “over the last few years the idea evolved into an exhibition of pairing Morandi with another, more contemporary artist [which turned to be Robert Ryman] because Morandi’s practice was so ahead of its time. To have the discipline to examine the same subject matter repeatedly brings forth ideas that came to fruition in the American conceptualism and minimalism of the 1970s.”
Morandi spent his career in Bologna creating still life paintings, often working from memory. He was “less interested in the naturalistic representation of objects than the form and density of space” and his one true master was Cézanne who “taught him the authentic sense of the autonomy of pictorial composition and the intensity of concentration on the object and on the space between the objects.” So now, 50 years after the great Italian painter’s passing, Morandi’s paintings have become highly prized works and viewers are able to see his pieces in the “context of what followed his poetic sense of representational Modernism.”
Robert Ryman (born 1930), a self-described “Realist painter,” has spent much of his career making works that consist of brushstrokes of white paint. He creates works of paint and reflected light that refer only to themselves and their materiality—according to the artist.
Morandi/Ryman brings together the work of these two artists and emphasizes the object-ness of a painting through the painterly act of representation—Morandi with still life and Ryman with white paint. For “nearly a decade these two masters worked, but a world apart and this exhibition brings them together for the first time,” says Kohn.
We asked Kohn if he has a favorite work in the exhibition. “I love the work I own from 1920—a graphite drawing of a “Natura Morta” heavily influenced by Purism and the ‘return to Classicism’ tendencies of post WWI seen in Europe (notably in Picasso’s neoclassical period of the same era). And there is a painting that I would love to own: a Natura Morta from 1956. In this painting a typical Morandi bottle stands to the left of a group of blockish forms. The fore/middle/background is divided into three flat bands of color. This reductionist geometry creates an enormous presence in the picture plane, and foreshadows the American Minimalism to come a few years later. It is a stunning painting!”
Since its establishment in 1985 by former Flash Art editor Michael Kohn, Kohn Gallery has presented historically significant exhibitions in Los Angeles alongside exciting contemporary exhibitions, creating meaningful contexts to establish links to the greater art history continuum.
Visit kohngallery.com for the latest information on upcoming exhibitions.
Join the “OBJECT/SPACE: Giorgio Morandi + Robert Ryman” conversation on social media by mentioning @KOHNGallery and using the #MorandiRymanKohn hashtag when posting.
By Jarone Ashkenazi
Visit Jarone at his website.