Biography of Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920)

Italian painter, born on July 12, 1884 in Livorno, whose artistic life was spent in Paris, in extreme circumstances sometimes, who became a legend of the artist and of the Bohemian Paris of turn of the century. His mother, Eugenia Garsin, was a cultured and sensitive woman who encouraged the young Modigliani to pursue his career of painter. In 1898 he/she falls seriously ill with typhus and his mother reveals her passion for drawing. He/She began to study painting with the painter artist Gugliemo Micheli. To 1899 he/she left studies to devote himself solely to painting; his mother writes in her diary: "finger has given up studying and does more painting, but does it all day and every day with a sharp burning that surprises me and I love it (...)". In 1900 he/she returned to fall sick, probably from pulmonary injury caused by typhus. In 1901 he/she is convalescing; in 1902 he/she traveled to Naples, Capri and Amalfi; then to Rome, Florence and Venice, where he/she meets Ortis of Zarate who encouraged him to become a sculptor. In 1902 it is registered at the free school in Florence, directed by Fattori, whom Modigliani admired. In 1903 he/she moved to Venice where he/she met Boccioni and Soffici.

In 1906 he/she decided to move to Paris, where he/she frequents the Colarossi Academy; locking friendship with Utrillo and Severini; He/She lives in the famous studies of the Bateau-Lavoir in Montmartre; in these early days his work is influenced by Picasso, Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec. In 1907 he/she meets the doctor Paul Alexandre who becomes her protector and convinces him to register at the Salon des Indépendants. 1908 data the head of young woman, one of the few pictures that have survived of his first arrival in Paris, work in which is evident his admiration for Touluse-Lautrec and which is close to the German Expressionists by thick lines looming figure and very red lips, although he/she cannot be this closeness by influenceas very few German Expressionists had exhibited in Paris at that time. In 1909, he/she made portraits of Alexandre family, including that of Doctor Paul Alexandre, who is pictured in front of the painting entitled the Jewish, also owned by the family. In summer and spring of 1909 working insanely on several sculptures; overwork, alcohol and low power seriously undermine your health again and goes to Livorno, there painted the beggar of Livorno where he/she expressed his sympathy for the oppressed and marginalized (although Modigliani came from a wealthy family in Paris lived as an outcast) and is an interpretation of an old picture that was in his family home in Livorno. A few months later returned to Paris and rented a Studio next to Brancusi, who befriends and encouraged him to pursue a career of sculptor. In 1910 the cellist, where clearly warns the influence of Cézanne exposes successfully six works in the Salon des indépendants, among them. It is strongly interested in the sculpture without abandoning painting; the poet Guillaume Apollinaire sells some pictures.

In 1911 visit Normandy with his aunt Laura and presents his sculptures and drawings of caryatids. In 1912 exposed again in the Salon des indépendants, this time sculptures (head, decorative set); is also of 1912 the seated nude where you have defined the distinctive characteristics of female nudes by Modigliani: torso painted in a more or less naturalistic way, almost whole body and face with the typical mannerism of the artist; without decorative elements that accompany the figure or hide it. In the summer he/she traveled to Livorno, where he/she meets the misunderstanding of his friends regarding their sculptures.

In 1913 they begin their problems with alcohol; painted several naked models; Lipchitz meets and becomes very fond of Soutine. In 1914 known, by Max Jacob, Paul Guillaume, who begins to buy almost all of their production and provides you with a study on the street Ravignan. In that same year he/she meets Beatrice Hastings, poet and journalist, who makes numerous portraits. In 1915 he/she participated with Kisling, Matisse, Ortis de Zarate and Picasso, in the exhibition organized by Paul Guillaume in number 6 of the Huyghens Street. His State of health begins to worsen; in 1916 he/she abused alcohol and drugs and met a new benefactor: the Polish poet Léopold Zborowski. His work starts to be recognized by poets (Apollinaire, Salmon, Cocteau) and collectors (Descaves, Netter, Lavel).

In 1917 he/she meets Jean Hébuterne who will be your companion until death. In December of that same year performs his first solo exhibition in the Gallery of Berta Weill; the day of the inauguration, police removed five naked for offenses to decency and not to sell any table; Despite this, it is a year of intensive production; the naked years highlight the perfect spiritual communion between the artist and his model.

Their daughter Jeanne was born in 1918 and spent a season in Nice and Cannes. The following year he/she returned to Paris and begins to be a painter known and esteemed by his colleagues; he/she exhibited in London at the Hill Gallery; He/She is aware of his serious health condition but he/she doesn't drink. 1919 data one of the portrait of Jeanne Hebuterne, one of his latest paintings (if not the last), in which portrays his wife pregnant with tenderness and understanding; Zervos said about these last paintings by Modigliani (...)There are not major changes in technology or in the form, the changes of dan in a greater insight into the quality of perception of the feelings that unifies and melts all the picture (...).

In January 1920 (...)one day Kisling and Zarate Ortis found Modigliani in bed, in the ice cream study; sitting beside her Jeanne, pregnant for nine months; around wine bottles and tins of sardines open (...), thus describes the scene his daughter Jeanne. He/She was transferred to the hospital of charity, where he/she died, on January 24, victim of a tuberculous meningitis. Two days later, Jeanne Hébuterne commits suicide by jumping from the window of the fifth floor of his house.

Gypsy woman with child. Modigliani. Italy.

Modigliani received little recognition during his short life that was, as he/she himself wanted, short but intense; the artist who most venerated was Cézanne, although he/she was never interested in representing nature; He/She only painted three landscapes and no still life yours is not known. His themes were the portrait and nudes. Sometimes he/she is cited as an expressionist, but it is difficult to give that title to the typical finesse of Modigliani.

It can be said that it was rather a purist, in the sense that conceived, such as those, the picture, as a flat surface covered with colors arranged in a certain order, but it also contributed to these myriad of human, sexual and social implications. He/She was also an excellent sculptor and draughtsman. In 1909 he/she devoted himself almost exclusively to sculpture, after his encounter with Brancusi and Archipenko. He/She understood that the only way to make sculpture was directly carving the stone and on many occasions felt more sculptor than a painter. (...) It was always considered sculpture as his great mission and was probably the lack of money and the difficulties to get materials and the amount of time carrying to complete a sculpture the reasons that made him return to painting during the last five years of his life (...) (Hammet). The statues that have survived (about 25) do not conform to any of the two predominant trends at the time (Cubism and Futurism); There is a high degree of sense plastic, a solidity in the forms and a trend towards the pace and outlining which are also characteristic of his painting.


Gallery multimedia


MAIOLINO, Enzo, Modigliani live, Turin, Fogola Editore, 1981

WERNER, Alfred, Modigliani, New York, Abrams.