The tragic artist: Amedeo Modigliani
Sleeping Nude, 1917-1918
Modigliani is considered to be one of the most outstanding painters of the XX century and his paintings are sold at record prices at Chistie’s and Sotheby’s auctions. In 2015 Modigliani’s “Reclining Nude” was sold for $170,4mln at Christie’s. However, he lived a difficult life and his talent was recognized only posthumously.
Born in Livorno, Italy, Modigliani suffered from tuberculosis, but in spite of poor health, he followed his dream to become an artist and went to study painting to Venice and Florence. He later moved to Paris, his long-time dream city, where he immediately became part of the bohemian Montmartre. Here he made friends with Pablo Picasso, who was his neighbour, with Jean Cocteau, Chaim Soutine, Maurice Utrillo, and many others of those who are part of the so-called Paris school. Modigliani suffered from poverty and lack of interest to his paintings and sculpture. And though Leonid Zborowski, a poet who was Modigliani’s friend, tried to help him sell his works, he was not successful. Zborowski arranged the first and only lifetime exhibition of Modigliani’s paintings, but of the 32 art works only two drawings were actually sold.
Modigliani’s legacy consists of oil paintings, sketches and sculptures carved from marble. “Man” is the focus of all his works. «Man — is what interests me,» — confessed the artist. The human face was a never ending source of inspiration for him. All his works, both paintings and sculptures, have the same signature style: almond-shaped empty eyes, pursed lips, thin stretched necks, oval-shaped faces. His portraits are filled with melancholic harmony.
Modigliani’s art is considered to stay apart from the conventional areas of the avant-garde. He is one of the few artists who created his own style. His art is influenced by Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, and his sculpture is under the influence of African sculpture tradition.
Modigliani’s paintings celebrate the beautiful nude body, and experts put his paintings on a par with the masterpieces by Botticelli and Velázquez. His painting «Nude, sitting on the couch,» which experts called «the triumph of nudity», was sold at Sotheby’s in 2012 for $69 million. Modigliani was a handsome man and was known for his notorious charm with women. He had relationship with many beautiful women and models who posed for him. It is said that he even had a love affair with Anna Akhmatova. But his main love and muse, was the young artist Jeanne Hebuterne, who gave birth to his daughter.
Modigliani painted Jeanne in a series of portraits, which are among his best works. The painting «Portrait of Jeanne Hebuterne in a hat» was sold at an auction for $19mln. The portrait was created in 1919, just a year before the artist died of tubercular meningitis. Jeanne Hebuterne, who at that time was pregnant wit their second child, committed suicide the day after Modigliani’s death. The tragic story immediately circled Paris, and collectors began to hunt for the artist’s paintings, which became famous at once.
Recumbent act with arms crossed behind the head, 1917
Nu couche, 1917