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Copying other people’s work, part 2

December 24, 2011

Still life by Giorgio Morandi

continued from Finding my way with oils and Copying someone else’s work. Scroll down the page for those posts.

Another inspiration over the years has been Morandi. For my birthday, my sister-in-law bought me a book on his work.

One of the essays, Giorgio Morandi’s artistic concept, by Gottfried Boehm adds perspective to our discussion on copying others’ work.

As I said in my last post, being struck deeply by another artist’s work says more about recognising an internal energy or essence, than it does about the physical details of the painting.

It is natural and educational to start by studying and copying particulars, such as layout, colour and subject matter in order to understand them better. But at some point you have to let those go or give them an entirely new context in order to find your own way.

In Boehm’s essay about Morandi, he speaks about the profound influence Cézanne had on Morandi and others:

Morandi only found himself as an artist once he had seen Cézanne’s art and had advanced Cézanne’s thought in a productive manner.
He goes on to say that Cézanne played this role for numerous modern artists including Matisse, Picasso and Braque. These artists :
did not seek to imitate him stylistically, but had recognised that his importance lay in something more fundamental. The signs that could be read in his art pointed in various different directions.
I won’t go into a discussion here of the particular revelations Cézanne’s work contained for modern art, I just want to emphasise that other artists can break open previously barred or even undiscovered ways for us if we are open to seeing them.

A hopeful aside here for people taking up painting in later life: Morandi didn’t start painting in oils until he was fifty. And I seem to remember that Cézanne did his most productive work in his 60’s!

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