Giorgio Morandi: Flowers, 1942 – Oil on canvas, 28.5 x 30 cm
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Estorick Collection, which occupies a distinctive niche as Britain’s only museum devoted to modern Italian art. In the relaxed ambience of a Georgian town house in Islington, it shows selections from the works gathered by the American sociologist Eric Estorick (1913-93) and his German wife Salome Dessau (1920-89) in four galleries, alongside special exhibitions in two further rooms. The couple travelled to Italy frequently, befriending artists and building a collection which is particularly strong in Futurist works. Highlights include Umberto Boccioni’s ‘Modern Idol’, Carlo Carrà’s ‘Leaving the Theatre’ and Giacomo Balla’s ‘The Hand of the Violinist’ – but one might equally point to Medardo Rosso, Amedeo Modigliani and Giorgio de Chirico. The temporary exhibitions tend either to foreground lesser-known artists worth discovering (my favourites have been Bice Lazzari, Tullio Crali and Giacomo Manzù: next up from May is Osvaldo Licini) or to look in more depth at such famous figures as Fausto Melotti and Paolo Scheggi, as well as the collection’s central figures – most recently Balla and Boccioni. Now is a particularly good time to visit, as there’s a dazzling display of Giorgio Morandi, with 30 works from the Estorick’s own collection supplemented by 50 from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation in Parma (to 28 May). The combination covers not just the well-known etchings, related drawings and classic still life paintings of bottles, vases and jugs, but also five revelatory watercolours and some less characteristic paintings – including an early self-portrait and the suitably sombre wartime flowers shown above.
London’s gallery scene is varied, from small artist-run spaces to major institutions and everything in between. Each week, art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent gives a personal view of a space worth visiting.