Early on in art school, an instructor of mine showed the class slides of Cézanne, Hopper, Balthus, and other stalwarts of modern figuration. Those monumental apples, existential interiors, and chiaroscuro Lolitas humbled the majority of us who'd rarely been to museums and appreciated only magazine illustrations or the chaotic stylings of something recently christened "MTV." Our gifted teacher got us to slow down long enough to comprehend the powerful visual buttresses underlying such works, but after diagramming the intense chutes-'n'-ladders space of Hopper's 1939 New York Movie, it was hard to understand why we also had to study a handful of battered beige cups and bottles by some guy named Morandi. Painted at around the same time, they felt clunky and desiccated next to Hopper's emphatic composition. Always, during slide lectures, those spare still lifes would appear, with nothing much said except perhaps an admonition that Morandi was even more poorly served by reproduction... More >>>