Giorgio Morandi painted landscapes in which a house was no more than a flat gable end - a triangle over a square - and backstreets and courtyards in which buildings were just as simplified. He's best known, however, for his still-life paintings (see above), but as many people have pointed out, these tabletop tableaux often evoke architecture: an old Italian city perhaps, with its clustered buildings and presiding towers, its alleyways and piazzas. Morandi's own city was Bologna, and his dusty bottles and jars have Bologna's colours and textures.
A new exhibition at Abbot Hall, Kendal, called Morandi's Legacy, traces his influence on British art, with works that include a Patrick Caulfield painting of leeks, oysters and dubious decor, an austere Ben Nicholson relief, and objects reduced to overlapping pink lines in a drawing by Herzog & de Meuron collaborator Michael Craig-Martin. Though the connections with Morandi can seem tenuous at times, curator Paul Coldwell makes a thoughtful case for them in the catalogue (£15). The show continues at Abbot Hall (www. abbothall. org. uk) until 25 March and then travels to London's Estorick Collection.
Morandi is the subject of one of the better essays in a new book from Princeton Architectural Press, Mysteries of the Rectangle (£16.95), by the novelist Siri Hustvedt. Other pieces discuss Giorgione, Vermeer and Gerhard Richter (among others) but while Hustvedt keeps telling us how long she's spent looking at a particular painting, she doesn't always have the insights to show for it.
Abbot Hall is twinned with Baillie Scott's house above Lake Windermere, Blackwell, whose latest exhibition, The Flowering of the Arts & Crafts in the Lake District, opens on 13 February (www. blackwell. org. uk). John Ruskin's influence is one topic it will explore, and the exhibits will doubtless be in harmony with the house - a relationship that comes under scrutiny in the latest Royal Academy Forum, Why We Care For Art, also on 13 February. Speakers including Penelope Curtis of the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, and Heidi Naef of the Schaulager, Basel, will discuss 'the interplay between art, architecture and memory' (www. rafocus. org. uk).