On Monday evening the Center for Italian Modern Art launched its inaugural and much anticipated “Drawing Night.” In collaboration with the New York Studio School (NYSS), CIMA opened its exhibition space to artists and students to draw inspiration from Giorgio Morandi’s works. Supplies for the evening were generously donated by the storied Italian paper-making company, Fabriano.
Morandi’s oeuvre has historically served as an indispensable teaching device for artists because of its sustained pictorial inquiry of form, color, and the transcendence of his subjects through observation. Painter Graham Nickson, Dean of the NYSS and the founder of that school’s legendary Drawing Marathon, opened the evening with reflections on the didactic value of direct observation and Morandi’s legacy to artists, extolling him as a “Painter’s Painter.” He invited the group to take a closer look at one painting in particular, a landscape from 1963, in which the buildings are practically abstract forms, akin to his still lifes.
Each artist then selected a work in the exhibition to spend the next hour in front of, sketching. Thanks to our in-kind sponsor, participants were able to make their drawings on the very Italian wove paper used by Morandi for his etchings and drawings: Fabriano. Fabriano fine arts papers were also used and highly praised by Michelangelo, Raphael, and Goya. Fabriano is currently celebrating 750 years of paper making. It was a thrill for our visiting artists to engage with this great tradition while in the presence of over forty Morandi paintings and works on paper.
The evening concluded with a group critique of everyone’s drawings, led by Dean Nickson. As we gazed at the works together, it became clear how each individual artist cultivated a subtle variation of line, cadence of light and inflection of Morandi’s process, while still imbuing the works with their own hand and personality. Morandi’s sensitive plasticity, fastidious care of form, and relentless focus and inventiveness continue to serve as a touchstone in art education. His work also reminds us to experience the richly intimate worlds we inhabit.