De Morandi

Ian Tyson and Kevin Power.
De Morandi.
Guildford, Surrey: Circle Press, 1979. (32359)

Signed by the artist and the poet below the colophon. Numbered C/P B of an edition of three hundred fifty-five. 

The Bolognese painter Giorgio Morandi (1890–1964) was a master of quiet, contemplative still lifes, often rendered in a subdued palette under diffuse lighting. Morandi set bottles, jugs, pitchers, and various containers in so particular an arrangement that they seem locked in place by the rarified air surrounding them. Although Morandi exhibited with the Futurists in Italy, his historic affinities reach back to Cezanne and di Chirico.

De Morandi is not so much an homage to the painter as it may be a study of intimate, understated space and elements within it. Kevin Power (b. 1981), faculty member of the School of English at Trinity College Dublin, contributed two sets of poems that build word environments on typeset pages designed by Ian Tyson. The opening set of seven poems is entitled “the sun outside dark bottle dart pot.” Power’s deliberate compositions appear inalterable, as in “Muletracks,” in which he lays out the phrases, “the ache in the shapes. shadows on the muletracks. shadows at my back. i would have sat with you. been with you as the light catches the traverses.” The second section, “pots, bottles, bowls, lamps, cups,” can be read as a single poem of twenty-eight stanzas, and while vibrant, is also immutable: “they do not raise their voices. not that that of itself matters. since we can’t understand what they say. they do change colors. they do so without seeing. & even if we had what could we have said.”

Eight blind debossed sheets by British artist Ian Tyson (1933–2021) accompany Power’s text as a separate suite. From page to page rectangular elements broaden and lengthen, narrow and shorten, and are filled with aquatint texture or are smoothed within the confines of the outer plate marks. Tyson presents the same high-tensile dynamism within the setting evident in Morandi’s work. Born in Cheshire, Tyson apprenticed as engineer in the Birkenhead shipyards before deciding to study art in Birkenhead and at the Royal Academy in London. He taught at several art institutions in the UK and USA, and his work has been frequently exhibited.

Power and Tyson subsequently collaborated on the book, Heidegger My Way and Scarcely (Amsterdam: Jan Tholenaar Editions, 1982).

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De Morandi