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Amedeo Modigliani

An Italian painter, illustrator and sculptor, Amedeo Modigliani marked the early 20th Century with a body of work that was both highly original and rich in influences. Known mainly for his portraits and female nudes, Modigliani was also the embodiment of the accursed artist.


Modigliani, the myth of the accursed artist

Amedeo Modigliani embodied every aspect of the accursed artist. Born into a Jewish family in Livorno on 12 July 1884, his childhood was marked by poverty and illness. He showed a talent for drawing very early on and, in 1902, joined the Scuola Libera di Nudo at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence. He continued his training in Venice, where he stayed until his departure for Paris in 1906. Modigliani settled in Montmartre and became acquainted with the Bateau Lavoir group. Those he met included Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Max Jacob and Apollinaire, who became his closest friends. An alcoholic and drug addict, he had a turbulent life and died in Paris on 24 January 1920. His young wife Jeanne Hébuterne committed suicide the day after his death. Their orphan daughter, Jeanne Modigliani (1918 – 1984), wrote a famous biography of her father entitled Modigliani: Man and myth.

His first pictorial period

Modigliani was known mainly for his portraits and female nudes, which were his two favourite themes. When he arrived in Paris in 1906, he took his inspiration from the works of his masters, Toulouse-Lautrec, Cézanne and Picasso. He was well known for completing a work quickly and never returned to a drawing or painting. Only a few paintings remain to show how his style developed over this first pictorial period. However, we can see a certain expressionist influence in Nu assis (Seated nude) and Portrait de la juive (Portrait of the Jewish girl) (1908). Cézanne’s influence stands out in the portraits of Alexandre Père et Alexandre Fils (Alexander Father and Alexander Son) (1909) and in the paintings Le Joueur de violoncelle (The Violoncello Player) and Le Mendiant (The Beggar) (1909).

“The aim of art is to fight against obligations”, Amedeo Modigliani

From 1909 to 1914, Modigliani gave all his energies to sculpture and drawing. Inspired by African art and Greek statuary, his statues may be recognised by their almond eyes and elongated necks. Modigliani presented a series of them at the 1912 Autumn Fair, but his precarious health forced him to abandon sculpture and dedicate himself to painting, mainly portraits. This latter period (1915-1920) saw him produce his best-known works. He painted portraits of his friends (Max Jacob, 1916) and of unknown people (Petit Paysan, (Little Country Boy) 1918), partly inspired by Gauguin for the shape of the face. Modigliani also produced some nudes using models (Nu couché, (Reclining nude) 1916) along with several portraits of his wife Jeanne.

Although he witnessed the beginnings of cubism and the rise of surrealism, Amedeo Modigliani remained indifferent to the theories of his day and did not claim to belong to any artistic movement. His paintings touch on fauvism, expressionism and cubism. Fed by these many influences, his work, although coherent as a whole, remains stylistically unclassifiable.

Useful links

Amedeo Modigliani legal archives <//span>
"For the last 15 years, the association has been involved in the same task, in accordance with its initial commitments: the worldwide spreading of knowledge of the Work and the circulation of historic and aesthetic information concerning it. Christian Parisot ensures that the archives entrusted to him by Jeanne Modigliani are preserved and carries on the work that she herself started nearly 60 years ago."

Amedeo Modigliani 's products at Nouvelles Images

> Prints and posters

Prints and posters Caryatids

> Transfert

Transfert Seated Nude

Nationality(ies) : Italian
Born on : 12/07/1884
Died on : 24/01/1920
Profile : Designer, Painter, Sculptor
Theme(s) covered : Fine Art, Portraits - Characters