Interview with Leon Morrocco

Bridgeman Studio speak to artist Leon Morrocco about his influences, and his father the artist Alberto Morrocco

Temple Elephant, 2009 (oil on canvas), Leon Morrocco (b.1942) / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images


1. What is your earliest memory of an artwork and who was it by?

Because both my parents were painters there were plenty of art books around when I was a child. I have no single memory of a particular art work, but I was fascinated by the gruesome depiction of death in early Italian quattro-cento painting! The Rape of the Sabines, the Massacre of the Innocents and the Martyrdom of St Sebastian all horrified me as a five year old (and still do!) so my introduction to art was through the subject-matter of Giotto, Lorenzetti, Ghirlandaio and Gentileschi.


2. Where did you study?

I had rather a varied training and went to 4 art schools.......Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, The Slade School of Fine Art, London, Edinburgh College of Art and the Academia di Belle Arte, Milan.


3. What is your favourite time of day to be in the studio?

As the major part of my life is spent in the studio  I dont really think in terms of a " favourite " time there.....if pushed , I would say it is when I feel my work is going well.....certainly not every day !


4. Your father Alberto, was also an artist, Did he inspire you to be an artist?

I suppose the answer is yes to this question, although with both parents painting I absorbed what was going on without question. The house always seemed to be filled with artists and art students, with heated arguments and discussions happening on a pretty regular basis.......I found this, as a ten year old and quite incapable of taking part, exciting and I wanted to be part of it! 

However what actually determined my future was the fact that i showed precious little aptitude at school for anything other than art. 


Turcomania, 1976 (oil on canvas), Alberto Morrocco (1917-98) / The Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation / Bridgeman Images


A growing archive. Portrait of Laurie Morrocco, (oil on canvas), Alberto Morrocco(1917-98) / Private Collection / Photo © Christie's Images / Bridgeman Images


5. Did you find his work influenced your practice, and if so how?  

Well of course, if you are brought up in an artistic environment, seeing a dedicated and highly creative artist functioning on a day to day basis, one is bound to be influenced by this. I admit to this. I have to say that my father, at no point in my early training or indeed at any point in my subsequent career, ever attempted to consciously influence my creative direction.

Similarities of approach ( often commented on ) I think are, after much thought, a mixture of genetics and the aforementioned upbringing.

Most discerning followers of my work have little trouble distinguishing my painting from his, specially my latest work. We are a society which is unfortunately obsessed by a narrow interpretation of " individuality ". No artist is allowed to resemble any other artist. It is expected that every artist invent their own vocabulary, from A to Z.


6. Did you ever work collaboratively?

I do not think that my father and I ever worked together on any project. I do remember helping him briefly, (for a day only), painting-in large areas of a mural that he was working on in a church.

What we did do was make sculpture together in the south of France one summer.


Alberto and Leon Morrocco making sculpture in the S. France, 1995. Copyright courtesy of Leon Morrocco


7. If you could pick 5 artists, dead or alive, to have dinner with who would they be and why?

I am tempted to nominate Picasso five times. Pushed to mention another four to have dinner with I find almost impossible. Five hundred would be more realistic. Anyway , here are four more:

Titian.....for his insight into character and the painting of it.

van Gogh... for his total honesty

Egon Schiele.... for his fluidity of draftsmanship

Samuel Palmer..... for his worship of nature

Picasso, by the way, for his monumental imagination


Paintings of Archways, Doors and Windows, 2003 (oil on panel), Morrocco, Leon (b.1942) / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images



Find out More

See all images by Leon and Alberto Morrocco on the Bridgeman website available for licensing.

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