Modigliani: grace and torment, art and poetry

Manifesto mostra rit

Exhibition poster


“ANAIS”  by Beatrice Brandini

In Milan, at Palazzo Reale, one could admire the masterpieces of the Netter’s collection, artists who lived in Paris in the early ‘900, such as Modigliani, Soutine, a collection, Utrillo, Suzanne Valadon, etc..

The exhibited works are undoubtedly beautiful, but also important for the next art for all modern art. As written by the exhibition’s curator Marc Rastellini “these spirits tormented express themselves in a painting that feeds on despair. Their art is not Polish, Russian, Italian or French, but it is absolutely original. ”

Specifically, I wanted to talk about Modigliani, an artist who I’ve always loved and that I discovered as a child with my dad, visiting an exhibition incredibly beautiful in Venice.


Amedeo Modigliani studio

Modigliani was born in Livorno on July 12, 1884. Wealthy family originally but subsequently hit by disasters commercial and financial, family non-conformist, the mother, as the brothers and sisters are important in the formation of the young Modigliani (the youngest son), all cultured and each inclined to follow their passions, political, literary, philosophical… It is above all an aunt, Laura, to indoctrinate the young grandson to the Nietzsche’s philosophy, with his interpretation of man “like a rope stretched between the animal and the Superman.” Concept dear to the artist and they definitely influence in the search of a” high” lifetime, characterized, unfortunately, by the constant presence of alcohol and drugs.


A. Modigliani, Cariatide (blu), private collection

Even very young asks her mother to be able to take drawing lessons, after which it is said that during the delirium of  typhoid fever tore the promise to abandon his studies to devote himself entirely to art. At the end of 900 anathor fiver turns into tuberculosis, prompting her mother to accompany the child in the South. Amalfi, Capri, Naples, Rome and Florence as well, will be critical to Modigliani, both as a cultural and artistic (in Rome will spend the winter to copy statues), or as open-mindedness, Livorno from that moment he will see provincial and reductive. He says his friend Oscar Ghiglia, “I’m rich and fruitful germs now and I need the work,” a need that the young Modigliani feels he can achieve only in contact with modernity. It’ll be first in Venice and then, in 1906, in Paris.


A. Modigliani, Jeanne Hébuterne with hat, detail, 1917

Paris was for all the restless, prophets, artists, the perfect place to seek one’s own vocation. Modigliani knew immediately that here his genius “crazy, extravagant, unregulated ….”, he could feel understood. During those years in Paris were Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse and Brancusi which will immediately begin to collaborate. Nevertheless, the current or posters, such as cubist (Severini also asked him to join the Futurism), are not for him, he who wants to feel free, not “forced” in any artistic movement.

In itself everything was already there, thanks above all to its Italian and great culture, primitive art, Byzantine, Gothic, Romanesque ….

The turning point in the artistic life of Modigliani, it must be the meeting with the brothers Alexandre, who, in addition to buying some works, guaranteeing a minimum “survival” economic, offered him a place to live and paint. Was Paul Alexandre introduced Modigliani to their primitive art, which enabled him to discover new artistic developments.

In Paris, however, opium, hashish and wine become inseparable companions Modigliani, compromising an already precarious health. In addition, with the passage of time could not break through, nor to convince critics and buyers. His economic conditions were dramatic, but despite this uncertainty continued to paint, draw, sculpt….

Modigliani Ritatto di bambina

A. Modigliani, Portrait of little girl

Léopold Zborowsky was the first to propose a contract to Modigliani, was 1916. From this meeting the production of Modigliani becomes more relaxed, there are many portraits of these years to friends and acquaintances. 1915 is the season of Portraits, the 1917/18 that of the magnificent nudes.

In Paris has numerous amorous adventures, some brief and superficial as those with many models depicting, but in 1917, meets the young Jeanne Hebuterne, with which goes to live with, in 1918 will become father.

In 1919 he finally begins to gather those consensuses coveted and certainly due, but tuberculosis is consuming him, he will die shortly thereafter, in 1920. His beloved Jeanne, deeply in love and grief-stricken, will follow two days later committed suicide.

After the death his art is the subject of forgery, and therefore of immediate interest.

Nudo seduto su un divano

A. Modigliani, Nude Seated on a sofa, 1917, private collection, Paris

It was believed by many, Brancusi all, a great designer, as he could with a simple, single stroke, two-dimensional and volumetric, to capture feelings and psychology of the subject, but his greatest love was for sculpture. His daughter Jeanne recalls that when he returned to Livorno rushed in Carrara marble looking for, even if the cost of the same, as well as a physicist tried by deep suffering, ferried him to the wood. He often need confirmation, it is said that Modigliani once asked a judgment on his sculptures to friends (or enemies) of a time, just in Livorno, this was so negative as to make him throw them all into the canal and close with a sculpture. I’m sick just thinking about it … This dramatic episode leads me to a reflection, not always behind the judgments, even those “friendly”, hides the truth. The world is full of episodes in which great artists, musicians, actors, etc.. they should give up their passion and their talent, for a critique, or worse, a judgment “to let go …” Hear all, humility is a huge honor, but then just follow your heart! You will have no regrets

 jeanne-hebuterne-con cappello e collana

A. Modigliani, Jeanne Hebuterne with hat and necklace

The early death of this great artist has left a huge void (I wonder why still in Italy, namely in Livorno, it has not been a museum dedicated), who knows what developments have had his art. Certainly in recent works, such as the magnificent nudes, there is hope but also all the sadness of his destiny, this sadness is infused in the faces of women.

Who met you, who was friends with you or you simply “touched”,  has had an immense fortune, has the benefit of your intellectual vivacity, your fragile and immense sensitivity, burning of your character, and above all an art that there was, there is and always will be.

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Some sketches of styles 20s by Beatrice Brandini

modigliani foto

Thanks Amedeo Modigliani! You left a priceless heritage for all future generations.

Good life to all!


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