The mournful melancholy of Casorati’s still lifes

"Still life" ("Cut apple"), 1938, oil on canvas

Writer Guido Ceronetti once noted that in Felice Casorati’s still lifes, “enigmatic ‘things’ turn into fantastic, figurative manifestations. Bowls, lemons, eggs, flowers, tablecloths […] enter directly […] deeply into the beholder.”

Piedmontese painter Casorati (1883-1963) focused on composing still lifes especially from the 1930s on.

Everyday objects, represented on canvas or on panel, underwent a simplification and stylization, through which we can sense the artist’s aspiration to create a profound intimacy between viewer and depicted objects.

An intimacy that another writer, Carlo Levi (1902-1975), beautifully described after visiting Casorati’s studio one day. Noting his paintings were scattered all over, he wrote:

“I barely had a moment to look at them, like a thief, and they seemed wonderful. It’s hard to say what I was feeling […] in that stolen moment. But I am sure that it was through those paintings that I came to the sudden realization that painting is like enchanting free spaces, like a manifestation of a time that is inside things and at the bottom of the heart, which is not in the still and dead object, but in its real form and number. A number that is closed, as implicit as existence in reality, inside a Greek temple: relationship, silence – the classic, aching melancholy of living in our time.”

June 22, 2016