Amedeo Modigliani

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Amedeo Modigliani was an Italian painter and sculptor who radicalized the face of two components of paintings; the portrait and the nude. Modigliani is a classic example of an artist whose work struggled to make waves during the living years and only found fame after the artist’s demise. Another fact which contributes to why Modigliani’s work takes a while to warm up to people is the sense of foreboding associated with his paintings – and not to mention how he often elongated his subject matter’s faces into linear dimensions. Today many consider Modigliani’s work as highly modern and stylish taking the viewer into the depths of his paintings. The term ‘Modiglianized’ was affectionately coined to refer to not only his paintings, but others as well which showcase a different almost Aztec-type style.

Amedeo Clemente Modigliani was born in 1884 in Tuscany, Italy in a rich Jewish family of entrepreneurs and businessmen. Rather than following into his grandfather and fathers foot-steps Modigliani was introduced to the arts through his other. His mother sensed that Modigliani had a flare for the arts and introduced him to colors, sketch books and paints. Apart from being a great painter Modigliani was also a sculptor, in fact during his lifetime he devoted five years only to sculpting. A move to Paris set out a chain of events which didn’t go down well for Modigliani personally but fuelled more art from him which in the years after his death became masterpieces. For some artists Paris is the inspiration they seek, for Modigliani it was a different case altogether. Paris brought out a rather reckless streak in him and he became well known amongst artist inner circles as the drunk and disorderly artist whose work no one really cared about and was high most of the time. Most of the female subject matters in his paintings are women that he had affairs with, his work Nu Couche au coussin Bleu  was whispered to be his friend’s wife. There is almost a shamelessness associated with Modigliani’s works, especially the nude paintings. The painting is both modern in its candid nudity and sensual at the same time. Modigliani was simply unapologetic about his notorious womanizing behavior and paintings even if they raised eye brows – for some they were borderline distasteful. One thing which stands out in Modigliani’s paintings is their long elongated faces often sketched or filled in with rich dark colors – Modigliani was often fascinated with necks and faces. Both these human parts got the most attention from him in his paintings.

A very rare work of Modigliani’s is his painting Jacques and Berthe Lipchitz. This time there were two subject matters in Modigliani’s paintings instead of a nude woman. The faces are very mask like in appearance revealing minimal yet enough clues about both subjects. This showcases how interested Modigliani always was about the inner workings of his subjects’ minds. The woman in the painting, Berthe has a straight face with deep slanting eyes, where as the man Jacques has his eyes sloping inwards and his face is not proportioned. One can only guess what the story was behind this painting.  Even though he created scenes wherever he went one cannot deny the sheer depth of Modigliani’s work and can only think about what other great works he could have painted had he not passed away so soon.

Amedeo Modigliani Paintings

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