Amedeo Modigliani Biography | Oil Paintings
7-12-1884 Livorno, ITA - 1-24-1920 Paris, FRABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Amedeo Modigliani was born into a Jewish family in Livorno, Italy in 1884. Modigliani learned to paint in the tradition of the Tuscan Macchiaioli. The influence of Tuscan Renaissance painting added an indefinable almost classical, yet timeless, quality to Modigliani's style. Although educated in Florence and Venice he spent most of his career in France. A visit to the Venice Biennale exposed him to the works of Munch, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Klimt. In the spring of 1906, he moved to Paris, but he had a difficult relationship with the city. Amadeo Modigliani lived on the fringe of artistic circles, reluctant to join any group that was forming around him like the Cubist or the Fauves, despite their shared admiration for Cezanne and African sculpture.
The Aristocratic Melancholy of the Great "Modi".
His individual style combined the linear elegance of Botticelli, whose work he had studied in Italy, with the avant-garde ideas that were circulating in pre-war Paris. His key influence was the Romanian sculptor Brancusi, whom he met in 1909. Under his guidance, Amedeo Modigliani produced an impressive series of African-influenced stone figures.
His closest friends, Soutine, Kisling, Brancusi, and Chagall, were artists from Eastern Europe, and all Jewish like himself. Despite the efforts of gallery owners like Paul Guillaume and Leopold Zborowsky, Modigliani remained artistically isolated, drowning his sorrows in drink. Paul Guillaume was one of the most astute gallery owners in Paris, was one of the artist's few true friends throughout his stormy years at La Ruche in Montparnasse, the rundown neighborhood that was nonetheless a hive of activity where many foreign artists lived and worked.
After the outbreak of WW1, the raw materials for sculpture became scarce, so Amedeo Modigliani turned to painting. Most of his subjects were sensual nudes or portraits, featuring slender, elongated figures. These received little attention from the critics. He had the strength of character, to stick to his chosen style, painting the same two subjects: female nudes and portraits.
Amedeo Modigliani’s first solo one-man exhibition opened at the Galerie Berthe Weill in Paris in 1910, unfortunately, the gallery was opposite a police station, it was forced to close after only a few days, following charges of indecency that were made because several paintings of female nudes were exhibited in the window.
Then in 1917, his world brightened when he fell in love with Jeanne Hebuterne, a promising nineteen-year-old artist. Soon they were living together. Their public scenes became famous in Montmartre. He made a reputation for his excesses, he had a habit of stripping stark naked when drunk. Amedeo Modigliani was better known for his self-destructive, bohemian lifestyle, a lifestyle which caused the breakdown of his health. Throughout his life, Modigliani battled with serious illnesses, including pleurisy, typhoid, and tuberculosis. These undermined his strength, but they did not alter his striking good looks or irresistible charm.
At the beginning of 1918, Leopold Zborowsky, his gallery owner friend, organized a move to Nice for Modigliani and Hebuterne, who wished to get away from Paris. The French Riviera had become a hospitable refuge for many artists, including Matisse and the “patriarch” Renoir. Even in the Mediterranean light of his childhood, Modigliani remained indifferent to the landscape, painting more portraits than ever, including several memorable images of children and common people as in Gypsy Woman with Baby.
Modigliani Sold No Paintings, Died Drunk and Destitude.
On his return to Paris from a stay on the Cote d'Azur, Modigliani's health began to deteriorate. He was stricken with pains in his kidneys and took to his bed. After some days, his neighbor downstairs, called in to see if anything was the matter. He found Modigliani delirious, complaining of violent headaches. The bed was strewn with empty bottles. Beside him sat Jeanne, who was nine months pregnant, she had not thought of calling for a doctor, the neighbor summoned one immediately. He came and declared the case was hopeless. Managing only one solo exhibition in his life and giving his work away in exchange for meals in restaurants, Amedeo Modigliani died destitutely.
He died of tubercular meningitis on January 20, 1920, he was 35 years old, and a few hours later, Hebuterne, committed suicide at her parent's house from the fifth floor by throwing herself out the window. The two passionate, desperate lovers lie side by side in the Pere Lachaise cemetery. Their funeral was attended by every artist in Paris, who only then realized the grandeur and poetry of the brilliant Tuscan who had arrived in the Ville Lumiere (city of light) fifteen years earlier.
Amadeo and Jeanne Having the Last Laugh in the Grave.
In 2015 Amedeo Modigliani nude painting Nu Couché (Reclining Nude), painted in 1917 sold at auction in New York for US$170,400,000 million dollars!
Art Movement History: School of Paris.
Artists Influencing Amedeo Modigliani: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brancusi.
He Traveled To France.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist.