Amedeo Modigliani

Amedeo Modigliani

Overview
Amedeo Clemente Modigliani (July 12, 1884 – January 24, 1920) was an Italian
Italian people
The Italian people are an ethnic group that share a common Italian culture, ancestry and speak the Italian language as a mother tongue. Within Italy, Italians are defined by citizenship, regardless of ancestry or country of residence , and are distinguished from people...

 painter
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

 and sculptor
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

 who worked mainly in France. Primarily a figurative art
Figurative art
Figurative art, sometimes written as figurativism, describes artwork—particularly paintings and sculptures—which are clearly derived from real object sources, and are therefore by definition representational.-Definition:...

ist, he became known for paintings and sculptures in a modern
Modern art
Modern art includes artistic works produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s, and denotes the style and philosophy of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of...

 style characterized by mask-like faces and elongation of form. He died in Paris of tubercular meningitis
Tuberculous meningitis
Tuberculous meningitis is also known as TB meningitis or tubercular meningitis.Tuberculous meningitis is Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection of the meninges—the system of membranes which envelops the central nervous system. It is the most common form of CNS tuberculosis.-Clinical features:Fever...

, exacerbated by poverty, overwork and addiction to alcohol
Alcohol
In chemistry, an alcohol is an organic compound in which the hydroxy functional group is bound to a carbon atom. In particular, this carbon center should be saturated, having single bonds to three other atoms....

 and narcotics.

Modigliani was born into a Jewish family in Livorno
Livorno
Livorno , traditionally Leghorn , is a port city on the Tyrrhenian Sea on the western edge of Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Livorno, having a population of approximately 160,000 residents in 2009.- History :...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

.
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Quotations

I try to formulate with the greatest clarity the truth about art and life, in the way that I experienced it.

La vita è un dono, dei pochi ai molti, di coloro che sanno e che hanno a coloro che non sanno e che non hanno.

Translation: The life is a gift, from the few to the most, from those who know and have to those who do not know and have.
Encyclopedia
Amedeo Clemente Modigliani (July 12, 1884 – January 24, 1920) was an Italian
Italian people
The Italian people are an ethnic group that share a common Italian culture, ancestry and speak the Italian language as a mother tongue. Within Italy, Italians are defined by citizenship, regardless of ancestry or country of residence , and are distinguished from people...

 painter
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

 and sculptor
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

 who worked mainly in France. Primarily a figurative art
Figurative art
Figurative art, sometimes written as figurativism, describes artwork—particularly paintings and sculptures—which are clearly derived from real object sources, and are therefore by definition representational.-Definition:...

ist, he became known for paintings and sculptures in a modern
Modern art
Modern art includes artistic works produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s, and denotes the style and philosophy of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of...

 style characterized by mask-like faces and elongation of form. He died in Paris of tubercular meningitis
Tuberculous meningitis
Tuberculous meningitis is also known as TB meningitis or tubercular meningitis.Tuberculous meningitis is Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection of the meninges—the system of membranes which envelops the central nervous system. It is the most common form of CNS tuberculosis.-Clinical features:Fever...

, exacerbated by poverty, overwork and addiction to alcohol
Alcohol
In chemistry, an alcohol is an organic compound in which the hydroxy functional group is bound to a carbon atom. In particular, this carbon center should be saturated, having single bonds to three other atoms....

 and narcotics.

Family and Early life


Modigliani was born into a Jewish family in Livorno
Livorno
Livorno , traditionally Leghorn , is a port city on the Tyrrhenian Sea on the western edge of Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Livorno, having a population of approximately 160,000 residents in 2009.- History :...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. A port city, Livorno had long served as a refuge for those persecuted for their religion, and was home to a large Jewish community
Jewish community of Livorno
The history of the Jews in Livorno, Italy reaches back about 500 years. The Jewish community of Livorno, although the youngest among the historic Jewish communities of Italy, was for some time the foremost because of the wealth, scholarship, and political rights of its members.-History:The first...

. His maternal great-great-grandfather, Solomon Garsin, had immigrated to Livorno in the 18th century as a refugee.

Modigliani's mother (Eugénie Garsin) who was born in and grew up in Marseille, was descended from an intellectual, scholarly family of Sephardic Jews, generations of whom had resided along the Mediterranean coastline. Her ancestors were learned people, fluent in many languages, known authorities on sacred Jewish texts and founders of a school of Talmudic studies. Family legend traced the Garsin's lineage to the 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza
Baruch Spinoza
Baruch de Spinoza and later Benedict de Spinoza was a Dutch Jewish philosopher. Revealing considerable scientific aptitude, the breadth and importance of Spinoza's work was not fully realized until years after his death...

. The family business was believed to be a credit agency with branches in Livorno, Marseille, Tunis, and London. Their financial fortunes ebbed and flowed. At times they enjoyed affluence, at other times they were subject to dire financial crises and reduced circumstances.

Modigliani’s father, Flaminio, hailed from a family of successful businessmen and entrepreneurs. While not as culturally sophisticated as the Garsins, they knew how to invest into and develop thriving business endeavors. Their wealth was derived from mining the metals abundant in the area of Sardinia
Sardinia
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea . It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands.The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *sard[],...

 and Tuscany
Tuscany
Tuscany is a region in Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.75 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence ....

 and extracting and exporting the ores. When the Garsin and Modigliani families announced the engagement of their children, Flaminio was a wealthy young mining engineer. He managed the mine in Sardinia and oversaw the almost 30,000 acres of timberland the family owned. He also was expert in both forestry and farming management.A reversal in fortune occurred to this prosperous family in 1883. An economic turndown in the price of metal plunged the Modiglianis into bankruptcy. Ever resourceful, Modigliani’s mother used her social contacts to establish a school and, along with her two sisters, made the school into a successful enterprise.

Modigliani was the fourth child, whose birth coincided with the disastrous financial collapse of his father's business interests. Amedeo's birth saved the family from ruin; according to an ancient law, creditors could not seize the bed of a pregnant woman or a mother with a newborn child. The bailiffs entered the family's home just as Eugenia went into labour; the family protected their most valuable assets by piling them on top of her.

Modigliani had a close relationship with his mother, who taught him at home until he was 10. Beset with health problems after an attack of pleurisy
Pleurisy
Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura, the lining of the pleural cavity surrounding the lungs. Among other things, infections are the most common cause of pleurisy....

 when he was about 11, a few years later he developed a case of typhoid fever
Typhoid fever
Typhoid fever, also known as Typhoid, is a common worldwide bacterial disease, transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person, which contain the bacterium Salmonella enterica, serovar Typhi...

. When he was 16 he was taken ill again and contracted the tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 which would later claim his life. After Modigliani recovered from the second bout of pleurisy, his mother took him on a tour of southern Italy: Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

, Capri
Capri
Capri is an Italian island in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples, in the Campania region of Southern Italy...

, Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 and Amalfi
Amalfi
Amalfi is a town and comune in the province of Salerno, in the region of Campania, Italy, on the Gulf of Salerno, c. 35 km southeast of Naples. It lies at the mouth of a deep ravine, at the foot of Monte Cerreto , surrounded by dramatic cliffs and coastal scenery...

, then north to Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 and Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

.

His mother was, in many ways, instrumental in his ability to pursue art as a vocation. When he was 11 years of age, she had noted in her diary:

Art student years


Modigliani is known to have drawn and painted from a very early age, and thought himself "already a painter", his mother wrote, even before beginning formal studies. Despite her misgivings that launching him on a course of studying art would impinge upon his other studies, his mother indulged the young Modigliani's passion for the subject.

At the age of fourteen, while sick with typhoid fever, he raved in his delirium that he wanted, above all else, to see the paintings in the Palazzo Pitti
Palazzo Pitti
The Palazzo Pitti , in English sometimes called the Pitti Palace, is a vast mainly Renaissance palace in Florence, Italy. It is situated on the south side of the River Arno, a short distance from the Ponte Vecchio...

 and the Uffizi
Uffizi
The Uffizi Gallery , is a museum in Florence, Italy. It is one of the oldest and most famous art museums of the Western world.-History:...

 in Florence. As Livorno's local museum only housed a sparse few paintings by the Italian Renaissance
Italian Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance began the opening phase of the Renaissance, a period of great cultural change and achievement in Europe that spanned the period from the end of the 13th century to about 1600, marking the transition between Medieval and Early Modern Europe...

 masters, the tales he had heard about the great works held in Florence intrigued him, and it was a source of considerable despair to him, in his sickened state, that he might never get the chance to view them in person. His mother promised that she would take him to Florence herself, the moment he was recovered. Not only did she fulfil this promise, but she also undertook to enroll him with the best painting master in Livorno, Guglielmo Micheli.

Micheli and the Macchiaioli


Modigliani worked in Micheli's Art School from 1898 to 1900. Here his earliest formal artistic instruction took place in an atmosphere steeped in a study of the styles and themes of 19th-century Italian art. In his earliest Parisian work, traces of this influence, and that of his studies of Renaissance art, can still be seen: this nascent work was shaped as much by such artists as Giovanni Boldini
Giovanni Boldini
Giovanni Boldini was an Italian genre and portrait painter. According to , he was known as the "Master of Swish" because of his flowing style of painting.-Early life:...

 as by Toulouse-Lautrec.

Modigliani showed great promise while with Micheli, and only ceased his studies when he was forced to, by the onset of tuberculosis.

In 1901, whilst in Rome, Modigliani admired the work of Domenico Morelli
Domenico Morelli
Domenico Morelli was an Italian painter, one of the most important Neapolitan artists of the 19th century. He enrolled at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Naples in 1836. His early works are Romantic and contain imagery drawn from the Middle Ages and Byron...

, a painter of melodramatic Biblical studies and scenes from great literature. It is ironic that he should be so struck by Morelli, as this painter had served as an inspiration for a group of iconoclasts who went known by the title "the Macchiaioli
Macchiaioli
The Macchiaioli were a group of Italian painters active in Tuscany in the second half of the nineteenth century, who, breaking with the antiquated conventions taught by the Italian academies of art, did much of their painting outdoors in order to capture natural light, shade, and colour...

" (from macchia —"dash of colour", or, more derogatively, "stain"), and Modigliani had already been exposed to the influences of the Macchiaioli. This minor, localized landscape movement
Landscape art
Landscape art is a term that covers the depiction of natural scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, and forests, and especially art where the main subject is a wide view, with its elements arranged into a coherent composition. In other works landscape backgrounds for figures can still...

 was possessed of a need to react against the bourgeois stylings of the academic genre painters. While sympathetically connected to (and actually pre-dating) the French Impressionists, the Macchiaioli did not make the same impact upon international art culture as did the contemporaries and followers of Monet, and are today largely forgotten outside of Italy.

Modigliani's connection with the movement was through Guglielmo Micheli, his first art teacher. Micheli was not only a Macchiaiolo himself, but had been a pupil of the famous Giovanni Fattori
Giovanni Fattori
Giovanni Fattori was an Italian artist, one of the leaders of the group known as the Macchiaioli. He was initially a painter of historical themes and military subjects. In his middle years, inspired by the Barbizon school, he became one of the leading Italian plein-airists, painting landscapes,...

, a founder of the movement. Micheli's work, however, was so fashionable and the genre so commonplace that the young Modigliani reacted against it, preferring to ignore the obsession with landscape that, as with French Impressionism, characterized the movement. Micheli also tried to encourage his pupils to paint en plein air
En plein air
En plein air is a French expression which means "in the open air", and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors.Artists have long painted outdoors, but in the mid-19th century working in natural light became particularly important to the Barbizon school and Impressionism...

, but Modigliani never really got a taste for this style of working, sketching in cafés, but preferring to paint indoors, and especially in his own studio. Even when compelled to paint landscapes (three are known to exist), Modigliani chose a proto-Cubist
Cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

 palette more akin to Cézanne than to the Macchiaioli.

While with Micheli, Modigliani not only studied landscape, but also portraiture, still life, and the nude. His fellow students recall that the latter was where he displayed his greatest talent, and apparently this was not an entirely academic pursuit for the teenager: when not painting nudes, he was occupied with seducing the household maid.

Despite his rejection of the Macchiaioli approach, Modigliani nonetheless found favour with his teacher, who referred to him as "Superman", a pet name reflecting the fact that Modigliani was not only quite adept at his art, but also that he regularly quoted from Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None is a philosophical novel by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, composed in four parts between 1883 and 1885...

. Fattori himself would often visit the studio, and approved of the young artist's innovations.

In 1902, Modigliani continued what was to be a life-long infatuation with life drawing, enrolling in the Accademia di Belle Arti (Scuola Libera di Nudo, or "Free School of Nude Studies") in Florence. A year later while still suffering from tuberculosis, he moved to Venice, where he registered to study at the Istituto di Belle Arti.

It is in Venice that he first smoked hashish
Hashish
Hashish is a cannabis preparation composed of compressed stalked resin glands, called trichomes, collected from the unfertilized buds of the cannabis plant. It contains the same active ingredients but in higher concentrations than unsifted buds or leaves...

 and, rather than studying, began to spend time frequenting disreputable parts of the city. The impact of these lifestyle choices upon his developing artistic style is open to conjecture, although these choices do seem to be more than simple teenage rebellion
Teenage rebellion
As part of their development into young adults, humans must develop an identity independent from their parents or family and a capacity for independent decision-making. They may experiment with different roles, behaviours, and ideologies as part of their process of developing an identity...

, or the cliched hedonism
Hedonism
Hedonism is a school of thought which argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good. In very simple terms, a hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure .-Etymology:The name derives from the Greek word for "delight" ....

 and bohemianism
Bohemianism
Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic or literary pursuits...

 that was almost expected of artists of the time; his pursuit of the seedier side of life appears to have roots in his appreciation of radical philosophies, including those of Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

.

Early literary influences


Having been exposed to erudite philosophical literature as a young boy under the tutelage of Isaco Garsin, his maternal grandfather, he continued to read and be influenced through his art studies by the writings of Nietzsche, Baudelaire, Carducci
Giosuè Carducci
Giosuè Alessandro Michele Carducci was an Italian poet and teacher. He was very influential and was regarded as the official national poet of modern Italy. In 1906 he became the first Italian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.-Biography:...

, Comte de Lautréamont
Comte de Lautréamont
Comte de Lautréamont was the pseudonym of Isidore Lucien Ducasse , an Uruguayan-born French poet....

, and others, and developed the belief that the only route to true creativity was through defiance and disorder.

Letters that he wrote from his 'sabbatical' in Capri in 1901 clearly indicate that he is being more and more influenced by the thinking of Nietzsche. In these letters, he advised friend Oscar Ghiglia;
The work of Lautréamont was equally influential at this time. This doomed poet's Les Chants de Maldoror
Les Chants de Maldoror
Les Chants de Maldoror is a poetic novel consisting of six cantos. It was written between 1868 and 1869 by the Comte de Lautréamont, the pseudonym of Isidore Lucien Ducasse...

became the seminal work for the Parisian Surrealists of Modigliani's generation, and the book became Modigliani's favourite to the extent that he learnt it by heart. The poetry of Lautréamont is characterized by the juxtaposition of fantastical elements, and by sadistic imagery; the fact that Modigliani was so taken by this text in his early teens gives a good indication of his developing tastes. Baudelaire and D'Annunzio similarly appealed to the young artist, with their interest in corrupted beauty, and the expression of that insight through Symbolist
Symbolism (arts)
Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century art movement of French, Russian and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts. In literature, the style had its beginnings with the publication Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire...

 imagery.

Modigliani wrote to Ghiglia extensively from Capri, where his mother had taken him to assist in his recovery from tuberculosis. These letters are a sounding board for the developing ideas brewing in Modigliani's mind. Ghiglia was seven years Modigliani's senior, and it is likely that it was he who showed the young man the limits of his horizons in Livorno. Like all precocious teenagers, Modigliani preferred the company of older companions, and Ghiglia's role in his adolescence was to be a sympathetic ear as he worked himself out, principally in the convoluted letters that he regularly sent, and which survive today.

Arrival


In 1906 Modigliani moved to Paris, then the focal point of the avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

. In fact, his arrival at the centre of artistic experimentation coincided with the arrival of two other foreigners who were also to leave their marks upon the art world: Gino Severini
Gino Severini
Gino Severini , was an Italian painter and a leading member of the Futurist movement. For much of his life he divided his time between Paris and Rome. He was associated with neo-classicism and the "return to order" in the decade after the First World War. During his career he worked in a variety of...

 and Juan Gris
Juan Gris
José Victoriano González-Pérez , better known as Juan Gris, was a Spanish painter and sculptor who lived and worked in France most of his life...

.

He settled in Le Bateau-Lavoir
Le Bateau-Lavoir
Le Bateau-Lavoir is a name which French painter Max Jacob coined for an area at the top of the steps leading to No. 13 Rue Ravigan, in Montmartre, Paris . The area is famous in art history because around the start of the 20th century a group of outstanding artists lived and rented artistic studios...

, a commune
Commune (intentional community)
A commune is an intentional community of people living together, sharing common interests, property, possessions, resources, and, in some communes, work and income. In addition to the communal economy, consensus decision-making, non-hierarchical structures and ecological living have become...

 for penniless artists in Montmartre
Montmartre
Montmartre is a hill which is 130 metres high, giving its name to the surrounding district, in the north of Paris in the 18th arrondissement, a part of the Right Bank. Montmartre is primarily known for the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré Cœur on its summit and as a nightclub district...

, renting himself a studio in Rue Caulaincourt. Even though this artists' quarter of Montmartre was characterized by generalized poverty, Modigliani himself presented—initially, at least—as one would expect the son of a family trying to maintain the appearances of its lost financial standing to present: his wardrobe was dapper without ostentation, and the studio he rented was appointed in a style appropriate to someone with a finely attuned taste in plush drapery and Renaissance reproductions. He soon made efforts to assume the guise of the bohemian artist, but, even in his brown corduroys, scarlet scarf and large black hat, he continued to appear as if he were slumming it, having fallen upon harder times.

When he first arrived in Paris, he wrote home regularly to his mother, he sketched his nudes at the Académie Colarossi
Académie Colarossi
The Académie Colarossi is an art school founded by the Italian sculptor Filippo Colarossi. First located on the Île de la Cité, it moved in the 1870s to 10 rue de la Grande-Chaumière in the VIe arrondissement of Paris, France....

, and he drank wine in moderation. He was at that time considered by those who knew him as a bit reserved, verging on the asocial. He is noted to have commented, upon meeting Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the...

 who, at the time, was wearing his trademark workmen's clothes, that even though the man was a genius, that did not excuse his uncouth appearance.

Transformation


Within a year of arriving in Paris, however, his demeanour and reputation had changed dramatically. He transformed himself from a dapper academician artist into a sort of prince of vagabonds.

The poet and journalist Louis Latourette, upon visiting the artist's previously well-appointed studio after his transformation, discovered the place in upheaval, the Renaissance reproductions discarded from the walls, the plush drapes in disarray. Modigliani was already an alcoholic and a drug addict by this time, and his studio reflected this. Modigliani's behaviour at this time sheds some light upon his developing style as an artist, in that the studio had become almost a sacrificial effigy for all that he resented about the academic art that had marked his life and his training up to that point.

Not only did he remove all the trappings of his bourgeois heritage from his studio, but he also set about destroying practically all of his own early work. He explained this extraordinary course of actions to his astonished neighbours thus:
The motivation for this violent rejection of his earlier self is the subject of considerable speculation. From the time of his arrival in Paris, Modigliani consciously crafted a charade persona for himself and cultivated his reputation of hopeless drunk and voracious drug user. His escalating intake of drugs and alcohol may have been a means by which Modigliani masked his tuberculosis from his acquaintances, few of whom knew of his condition. Tuberculosis—the leading cause of death in France by 1900—was highly communicable, there was no cure, and those who had it were feared, ostracized, and pitied. Modigliani thrived on camaraderie and would not let himself be isolated as an invalid; he sought to suppress his coughing bouts and any other recognizable signs of the disease that was slowly consuming him. Modigliani used drink and drugs to self-medicate, to serve as palliatives to ease his physical pain, helping him to maintain a facade of vitality and allowing him to continue to create his art.

Modigliani's use of drink and drugs intensified from about 1914 onward. After years of remission and recurrence, this was the period in time when the symptoms of his tuberculosis worsened, signaling that the disease had reached an advanced stage.

He sought the company of artists such as Utrillo
Maurice Utrillo
Maurice Utrillo, , born Maurice Valadon, was a French painter who specialized in cityscapes. Born in the Montmartre quarter of Paris, France, Utrillo is one of the few famous painters of Montmartre who were born there....

 and Soutine
Chaim Soutine
Chaïm Soutine was a Jewish painter from Belarus. Soutine made a major contribution to the expressionist movement while living in Paris....

, seeking acceptance and validation for his work from his colleagues. Modigliani's behavior stood out even in these Bohemian
Bohemianism
Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic or literary pursuits...

 surroundings: he carried on frequent affairs, drank heavily, and used absinthe
Absinthe
Absinthe is historically described as a distilled, highly alcoholic beverage. It is an anise-flavoured spirit derived from herbs, including the flowers and leaves of the herb Artemisia absinthium, commonly referred to as "grande wormwood", together with green anise and sweet fennel...

 and hashish
Hashish
Hashish is a cannabis preparation composed of compressed stalked resin glands, called trichomes, collected from the unfertilized buds of the cannabis plant. It contains the same active ingredients but in higher concentrations than unsifted buds or leaves...

. While drunk, he would sometimes strip himself naked at social gatherings. He became the epitome of the tragic artist, creating a posthumous legend almost as well-known as Vincent van Gogh.

During the 1920s, in the wake of Modigliani's career and spurred on by comments by André Salmon
André Salmon
André Salmon was a French poet, art critic and writer. He was one of the defenders of cubism, with Guillaume Apollinaire and Maurice Raynal.-Biography:Andre Salmon was born in Paris...

 crediting hashish and absinthe with the genesis of Modigliani's style, many hopefuls tried to emulate his "success" by embarking on a path of substance abuse and bohemian excess. Salmon claimed—erroneously—that whereas Modigliani was a totally pedestrian artist when sober,
While this propaganda served as a rallying cry to those with a romantic longing to be a tragic, doomed artist, these strategies did not produce unique artistic insights or techniques in those who did not already have them.

In fact, art historians suggest that it is entirely possible for Modigliani to have achieved even greater artistic heights had he not been immured in, and destroyed by, his own self-indulgences. We can only speculate what he might have accomplished had he emerged intact from his self-destructive explorations.

Output


During his early years in Paris, Modigliani worked at a furious pace. He was constantly sketching, making as many as a hundred drawings a day. However, many of his works were lost—destroyed by him as inferior, left behind in his frequent changes of address, or given to girlfriends who did not keep them.

He was first influenced by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa or simply Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a French painter, printmaker, draughtsman, and illustrator, whose immersion in the colourful and theatrical life of fin de siècle Paris yielded an œuvre of exciting, elegant and provocative images of the modern...

, but around 1907 he became fascinated with the work of Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th century conception of artistic endeavour to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. Cézanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th...

. Eventually he developed his own unique style, one that cannot be adequately categorized with other artists.

He met the first serious love of his life, Russian poet Anna Akhmatova
Anna Akhmatova
Anna Andreyevna Gorenko , better known by the pen name Anna Akhmatova , was a Russian and Soviet modernist poet, one of the most acclaimed writers in the Russian canon.Harrington p11...

, in 1910, when he was 26. They had studios in the same building, and although 21-year-old Anna was recently married, they began an affair. Anna was tall (as Modigliani was only 5 foot 5 inches) with dark hair (like Modigliani's), pale skin and grey-green eyes, she embodied Modigliani's aesthetic ideal and the pair became engrossed in each other. After a year, however, Anna returned to her husband.

Sculpture


In 1909, Modigliani returned home to Livorno, sickly and tired from his wild lifestyle. Soon he was back in Paris, this time renting a studio
Studio
A studio is an artist's or worker's workroom, or the catchall term for an artist and his or her employees who work within that studio. This can be for the purpose of architecture, painting, pottery , sculpture, scrapbooking, photography, graphic design, filmmaking, animation, radio or television...

 in Montparnasse
Montparnasse
Montparnasse is an area of Paris, France, on the left bank of the river Seine, centred at the crossroads of the Boulevard du Montparnasse and the Rue de Rennes, between the Rue de Rennes and boulevard Raspail...

. He originally saw himself as a sculptor rather than a painter, and was encouraged to continue after Paul Guillaume
Paul Guillaume
Paul Guillaume was a French art dealer. Dealer of Chaim Soutine and Amedeo Modigliani, he was one of the first to organize African art exhibitions...

, an ambitious young art dealer, took an interest in his work and introduced him to sculptor Constantin Brâncuşi
Constantin Brancusi
Constantin Brâncuşi was a Romanian-born sculptor who made his career in France. As a child he displayed an aptitude for carving wooden farm tools. Formal studies took him first to Bucharest, then to Munich, then to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris...

.

Although a series of Modigliani's sculptures were exhibited in the Salon d'Automne
Salon d'Automne
In 1903, the first Salon d'Automne was organized by Georges Rouault, André Derain, Henri Matisse, Angele Delasalle and Albert Marquet as a reaction to the conservative policies of the official Paris Salon...

 of 1912, by 1914 he abandoned sculpting and focused solely on his painting, a move precipitated by the difficulty in acquiring sculptural materials due to the outbreak of war
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and by Modigliani's physical debilitation.

In June 2010 Modigliani's Tête
Tête (sculpture)
Tête is a limestone sculpture by Amedeo Modigliani and is amongst the most expensive works of art ever sold. In 2010 an anonymous telephone bidder purchased Tête for €43.2 million at Christie's in Paris. The sale was a record at a French auction and placed the sculpture amongst the most expensive...

, a limestone carving of a woman's head, became the second most expensive sculpture ever sold.

Question of influences


Modigliani painted a series of portraits of contemporary artists and friends in Montparnasse: Chaim Soutine
Chaim Soutine
Chaïm Soutine was a Jewish painter from Belarus. Soutine made a major contribution to the expressionist movement while living in Paris....

, Moise Kisling
Moise Kisling
Moise Kisling was a Polish painter.Born in Kraków, Austria-Hungary, he studied at the School of Fine Arts in Kraków, where he was encouraged to travel to the center for artistic creativity in the early 20th century, Paris, France.In 1910, Kisling moved to Montmartre and a few years later to...

, Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the...

, Diego Rivera
Diego Rivera
Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez was a prominent Mexican painter born in Guanajuato, Guanajuato, an active communist, and husband of Frida Kahlo . His large wall works in fresco helped establish the Mexican Mural Movement in...

, Marie "Marevna" Vorobyev-Stebeslka
Marie Vorobieff
Marie Bronislava Vorobieff-Stebelska , also known as Marevna, was a Russian-born Cubist painter. She is internationally known for convincingly combining elements of cubism with pointillism and – through the use of the Golden Ratio for laying out paintings – structure. She tends to be accredited...

, Juan Gris
Juan Gris
José Victoriano González-Pérez , better known as Juan Gris, was a Spanish painter and sculptor who lived and worked in France most of his life...

, Max Jacob
Max Jacob
Max Jacob was a French poet, painter, writer, and critic.-Life and career:After spending his childhood in Quimper, Brittany, France, he enrolled in the Paris Colonial School, which he left in 1897 for an artistic career...

, Blaise Cendrars
Blaise Cendrars
Frédéric Louis Sauser , better known as Blaise Cendrars, was a Swiss novelist and poet naturalized French in 1916. He was a writer of considerable influence in the modernist movement.-Early years:...

, and Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau
Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau was a French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, playwright, artist and filmmaker. His circle of associates, friends and lovers included Kenneth Anger, Pablo Picasso, Jean Hugo, Jean Marais, Henri Bernstein, Marlene Dietrich, Coco Chanel, Erik Satie, María...

, all sat for stylized renditions.

At the outset of World War I, Modigliani tried to enlist in the army but was refused because of his poor health.

The war years


Known as Modì, which translates as 'cursed' (maudit), by many Parisians, but as Dedo to his family and friends, Modigliani was a handsome man, and attracted much female attention.

Women came and went until Beatrice Hastings entered his life. She stayed with him for almost two years, was the subject for several of his portraits, including Madame Pompadour, and the object of much of his drunken wrath.

When the British painter Nina Hamnett
Nina Hamnett
Nina Hamnett was a Welsh artist and writer, and an expert on sailors' chanteys, who became known as the Queen of Bohemia.- Early life :...

 arrived in Montparnasse in 1914, on her first evening there the smiling man at the next table in the café introduced himself as Modigliani; painter and Jew. They became great friends.

In 1916, Modigliani befriended the Polish
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 poet and art dealer Leopold Zborowski
Leopold Zborowski
Leopold Zborowski was a Polish poet, writer and art dealer.Zborowski and his wife Anna were contemporaries with Parisian artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Cézanne, André Derain and Amedeo Modigliani, who painted their portraits.Leopold Zborowski was Amedeo Modigliani's primary art...

 and his wife Anna.

Jeanne Hébuterne


The following summer, the Russian sculptor Chana Orloff
Chana Orloff
-Biography:Chana Orloff was born in Ukraine. She immigrated to Ottoman Palestine in 1905 and settled in Jaffa, where she found a job as a cutter and seamstress. Zvi Nishri , the pioneer in physical education in Israel, was her brother....

 introduced him to a beautiful 19-year-old art student named Jeanne Hébuterne
Jeanne Hébuterne
Jeanne Hébuterne was a French artist, best known as the frequent subject and common-law wife of the artist Amedeo Modigliani.- Early life :...

 who had posed for Tsuguharu Foujita
Tsuguharu Foujita
was a painter and printmaker born in Tokyo, Japan who applied Japanese ink techniques to Western style paintings.- Education :In 1910 when he was twenty-four years old Foujita graduated from what is now the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music....

. From a conservative bourgeois background, Hébuterne was renounced by her devout Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 family for her liaison with the painter, whom they saw as little more than a debauched derelict. Despite her family's objections, soon they were living together, and although Hébuterne was the current love of his life, their public scenes became more renowned than Modigliani's individual drunken exhibitions.

On December 3, 1917, Modigliani's first one-man exhibition
Art exhibition
Art exhibitions are traditionally the space in which art objects meet an audience. The exhibit is universally understood to be for some temporary period unless, as is rarely true, it is stated to be a "permanent exhibition". In American English, they may be called "exhibit", "exposition" or...

 opened at the Berthe Weill Gallery. The chief of the Paris police was scandalized by Modigliani's nudes and forced him to close the exhibition within a few hours after its opening.

After he and Hébuterne moved to Nice
Nice
Nice is the fifth most populous city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse, with a population of 348,721 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of more than 955,000 on an area of...

, she became pregnant and on November 29, 1918 gave birth to a daughter whom they named Jeanne
Jeanne Modigliani
Jeanne Modigliani was the biographer of her father, artist Amedeo Modigliani, writing the 1958 book Modigliani, man and myth, later translated into English from the Italian by Esther Rowland Clifford....

 (1918–1984). When Modigliani died on January 24, 1920 Hébuterne was pregnant with their second child.

Nice



On a trip to Nice which had been conceived and organized by Leopold Zborowski
Leopold Zborowski
Leopold Zborowski was a Polish poet, writer and art dealer.Zborowski and his wife Anna were contemporaries with Parisian artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Cézanne, André Derain and Amedeo Modigliani, who painted their portraits.Leopold Zborowski was Amedeo Modigliani's primary art...

, Modigliani, Foujita and other artists tried to sell their works to rich tourists. Modigliani managed to sell a few pictures but only for a few francs each. Despite this, during this time he produced most of the paintings that later became his most popular and valued works.

During his lifetime he sold a number of his works, but never for any great amount of money. What funds he did receive soon vanished for his habits.

In May 1919 he returned to Paris, where, with Hébuterne and their daughter, he rented an apartment in the rue de la Grande Chaumière. While there, both Jeanne Hébuterne and Amedeo Modigliani painted portraits of each other, and of themselves.

Death


Although he continued to paint, Modigliani's health was deteriorating rapidly, and his alcohol-induced blackouts became more frequent.

In 1920, after not hearing from him for several days, his downstairs neighbor checked on the family and found Modigliani in bed delirious and holding onto Hébuterne who was nearly nine months pregnant. They summoned a doctor, but little could be done because Modigliani was in the final stage of his disease, dying of tubercular meningitis.

Modigliani died on January 24, 1920. There was an enormous funeral, attended by many from the artistic communities in Montmartre and Montparnasse.

Hébuterne was taken to her parents' home, where, inconsolable, she threw herself out of a fifth-floor window, a day after Modigliani's death, killing herself and her unborn child. Modigliani was interred in Père Lachaise Cemetery
Père Lachaise Cemetery
Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris, France , though there are larger cemeteries in the city's suburbs.Père Lachaise is in the 20th arrondissement, and is reputed to be the world's most-visited cemetery, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors annually to the...

. Hébuterne was buried at the Cimetière de Bagneux
Cimetière de Bagneux
Located to the southwest of the city of Paris, France, the Cimetière de Bagneux is located at 44, avenue Marx-Dormoy, in Montrouge, Hauts-de-Seine....

 near Paris, and it was not until 1930 that her embittered family allowed her body to be moved to rest beside Modigliani. A single tombstone honors them both. His epitaph reads: "Struck down by Death at the moment of glory." Hers reads: "Devoted companion to the extreme sacrifice."

Modigliani died penniless and destitute—managing only one solo exhibition in his life and giving his work away in exchange for meals in restaurants. Since his death his reputation has soared. Nine novels, a play, a documentary and three feature films have been devoted to his life. In November 2010, a painting of a nude by Amedeo Modigliani, part of a series of nudes he created around 1917, sold for more than $68.9m (£42.7m) at an auction in New York—a record for the artist's work. Bidding for "La Belle Romaine" pushed its price well past its $40m (£24.8m) estimate. Modigliani's previous auction record was 43.2m euros (£35.8m), set earlier this year in Paris. Another painting by the artist—Jeanne Hebuterne
Jeanne Hébuterne
Jeanne Hébuterne was a French artist, best known as the frequent subject and common-law wife of the artist Amedeo Modigliani.- Early life :...

 (au chapeau), one of the first portraits he painted of his lover—sold for $19.1m (£11.8m), high above its estimate of $9–12m (£5.6-7.4m).

Legacy


The linear form of African sculpture and the depictive humanism of the figurative Renaissance painters informed his work. Working during that fertile period of “isms,” Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Futurism, Modigliani did not choose to be categorized within any of these prevailing, defining confines. He was unclassifiable, stubbornly insisting on his difference. He was an artist putting down paint on canvas creating works not to shock and outrage, but to say, “This is what I see.” More appreciated over the years by collectors than academicians and critics, Modigliani was indifferent to staking a claim for himself in the intellectual avant-garde of the art world. One can say he recognized the merit of Jean Cocteau’s proclamation: “Ne t’attendes pas avec l’avante garde,” (“Don’t pay attention to the avante garde”).
Modigliani's sister in Florence adopted their daughter, Jeanne
Jeanne Modigliani
Jeanne Modigliani was the biographer of her father, artist Amedeo Modigliani, writing the 1958 book Modigliani, man and myth, later translated into English from the Italian by Esther Rowland Clifford....

 (1918–1984). As an adult, she wrote a biography of her father titled, Modigliani: Man and Myth.

Critical reactions


Peter Schjeldahl
Peter Schjeldahl
Peter Schjeldahl, , is an American art critic, poet, and educator.Schjeldahl was born in Fargo, North Dakota. He grew up in small towns throughout Minnesota, and attended Carleton College and The New School...

 wrote:
I recall my thrilled first exposure, as a teenager, to one of his long-necked women, with their piquantly tipped heads and mask-like faces. The rakish stylization and the succulent color were easy to enjoy, and the payoff was sanguinely erotic in a way that endorsed my personal wishes to be bold and tender and noble, overcoming the wimp that I was. In that moment, I used up Modigliani's value for my life. But in museums ever since I have been happy to salute his pictures with residually grateful, quick looks.


Schjeldahl reports Meryle Secrest
Meryle Secrest
Meryle Secrest is an award-winning American biographer, primarily of American artists and art collectors.-Biography:Secrest was born in Bath, England and educated there. Her family emigrated to Canada, where she began her career as a journalist...

’s speculation that Modigliani was happy to let people consider him an alcoholic and drug addict, "and thus to mistake the symptoms of his tuberculosis, which he kept a secret. Drunks were tolerated; carriers of infectious diseases were not."

Cinema


Two films have been made about Modigliani: Les Amants de Montparnasse
Les Amants de Montparnasse
The Lovers of Montparnasse , also known as Montparnasse 19, is a 1958 French-Italian drama film chronicling the last year of the life of the Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani who worked and died in abject poverty in the Montparnasse Quarter of Paris, France.It was originally directed by Max Ophüls,...

in 1958, directed by Jacques Becker
Jacques Becker
Jacques Becker was a French screenwriter and film director.Becker was born in Paris, in an upper class background. During the 1930s he worked as an assistant to director Jean Renoir during his peak period, which produced such cinematic masterpieces as Grand Illusion and The Rules of the Game...

, and Modigliani
Modigliani (film)
- Plot :Set in Paris in 1919, biopic centers on the life of late Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani, focusing on his last days as well as his rivalry with Pablo Picasso. Modigliani, a Jew, has fallen in love with Jeanne, a young and beautiful Catholic girl. The couple has an illegitimate child, and...

in 2004, directed by Mick Davis starring Andy García
Andy García
Andrés Arturo García Menéndez , professionally known as Andy García, is a Cuban American actor. He became known in the late 1980s and 1990s, having appeared in several successful Hollywood films, including The Godfather: Part III, The Untouchables, Internal Affairs and When a Man Loves a Woman...

 as Modigliani.

Red Nude (1917) plays an important part in the 1972 film Travels with My Aunt. The slyly winking face of Maggie Smith
Maggie Smith
Dame Margaret Natalie Smith, DBE , better known as Maggie Smith, is an English film, stage, and television actress who made her stage debut in 1952 and is still performing after 59 years...

, complete with bright red hair, seems to have been superimposed onto the original painting.

The 1968 French film, Le tatoué
Le tatoué
Le tatoué is a French–Italian comedy movie from 1968, directed by Denys de La Patellière, written by Alphonse Boudard, and starring by Jean Gabin and Louis de Funès.- Cast :...

features a fictional Legionnaire
French Foreign Legion
The French Foreign Legion is a unique military service wing of the French Army established in 1831. The foreign legion was exclusively created for foreign nationals willing to serve in the French Armed Forces...

 who has his back covered by a tattoo done by Modigliani. Since after his death, works by Modigliani have skyrocketed in value, an art dealer spends the movie trying to get the tattoo off the back of the Legionnaire, and into a museum.

Paintings



  • Head of a Woman with a Hat (1907)
  • Portrait of Juan Gris (1915)
  • Portrait of the Art Dealer Paul Guillaume (1916)
  • Portrait of Jean Cocteau (1916)
  • Seated Nude (ca. 1918) Honolulu Academy of Arts
    Honolulu Academy of Arts
    The Honolulu Academy of Arts is an art museum in Honolulu in the state of Hawaii. Since its founding in 1922 by Anna Rice Cooke and opening April 8, 1927, its collections have grown to over 40,000 works of art.-Description:...

  • Portrait of Jeanne Hébuterne (1918)
  • Woman with a Fan (1919), stolen from the Museum of Modern Art
    Museum of Modern Art
    The Museum of Modern Art is an art museum in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, on 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It has been important in developing and collecting modernist art, and is often identified as the most influential museum of modern art in the world...

     in Paris on
  • Portrait of Marios Varvoglis
    Marios Varvoglis
    Marios Varvoglis was a Greek composer of the Modern Era. He studied music at the Conservatoire de Paris and the Schola Cantorum with Leroux, Georges Caussade, d'Indy and others...

    (1920; Modigliani's last painting)

Sculptures


(Only 27 sculptures by Modigliani are known to exist.)
  • Head of a Woman (1910/1911).
  • Head (1911–1913).
  • Head (1911–1912).
  • Head (1912).
  • Rose Caryatid (1914).

See also

  • Painting the Century: 101 Portrait Masterpieces 1900-2000
    Painting the Century: 101 Portrait Masterpieces 1900-2000
    Painting The Century: 101 Portrait Masterpieces 1900–2000 was an international exhibition held at the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2000–2001 that exhibited a painting representing each year of the 20th century...

  • Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art
    Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art
    The Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art , formerly known as Villeneuve d'Ascq Museum of Modern Art, is an art museum located in Villeneuve d'Ascq, France....

  • Nude Sitting on a Divan
    Nude Sitting on a Divan
    Nude Sitting on a Divan is an oil on canvas painting by Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani depicting a partially draped woman seated with crossed legs against a warm red background. The work was one of a series of nudes painted by Modigliani in 1917 that created a sensation when exhibited in Paris...


External links