Modigliani, various paintings, 1906-20
Amedeo Modigliani was a painter of people. Not only did he paint the most exquisite nudes (for which he is perhaps most well known) but first and foremost he was a painter of people. He said: ‘To do any work, I must have a living person … I must be able to see him opposite me’
Modigliani was Italian, French and Jewish. Born in Livorno, in Tuscany, he studied in Florence and Venice before moving to Paris in 1906. It is said that his studio was filled with photographs of works by Carpaccio, Veronese, Lippi, Titian, Andrea del Sarto and Botticelli as well as references to his interest in African masks. He drew from many influences, he was part of the new wave of artistic developments in Paris in the first two decades. Picasso in fact was his great rival.
Paris early 1900’s. He was an aristocrat with elegant manners and attire. He was a true bohemian living the life of the ‘poor struggling artist’. And he really was that. He was the myth.
And his paintings! Oh they are beautiful. Full of originality, personality and integrity. He extracts the essence of the person before him. Often leaving the eyes blank - the windows to the soul gaze back, filled with infinity. Flowing lines and forms reminiscent of the graceful elongations of Botticelli and Ingres.
‘I am the prey of great powers that surge forth and then disintegrate…’