The mournful melancholy of Casorati’s still lifes

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.”

"Still life with lemon", 1937, Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil

"Apples on the Gazzetta del Popolo", 1928, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome

"Apples" or "Still life with nude figure", 1944, oil on panel

"Nocturnal. Eggs", 1959, tempera on paper

"Eggs on the carpet" or "Eggs on the checkerboard", 1942, oil on panel, Fondazione Domus per l’arte moderna e contemporanea

"Eggs and lemons", 1962, oil on paper

"Hospital", 1927, oil on canvas, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome

"Masks", 1921, oil on canvas

"Blue chair and turnips" ("Turnips and caraffe"), 1927, oil on cardboard

"Turnips left on a piece of paper", 1946 Galleria Carlina, Turin

"Bowls", 1919, oil on canvas

"Still life with landscape", tempera on canvas, Pinacoteca Comunale di Faenza

"Still life with two small birds", 1956, tempera on cardboard

"Fruit bowl with oranges", first half of the 1900s, oil on canvas

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