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Modigliani Faces as the Highest Art. But What Is Behind the Brand Portraits by Modigliani?

09.07.2021
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modigliani portraits

Modigliani sought to reflect the inner essence of a person in the portrait. He was ruthless to his heroes, sharpening or, conversely, smoothing out the facial features, he bared the soul of his model. Not beautiful or ugly – but the way he saw her.

Amedeo often drew from memory: as soon as he looked at a person for a short time, he took up the picture, never again glancing at the model.

The uniformity of Amadeo Modiliani portrait style is one of the greatest wonders of modern art history. But for anyone who thinks the Italian artist only experimented with the abstraction of portraiture, portraying each sitter as if they all came from the same family with long faces, almond-shaped eyes and a tiny mouth, it’s interesting to know that he had deep feelings. personal reasons for the depersonalization of his portraits.

Who Is Modigliani?

modigliani sketches

Amedeo Modigliani is a representative of Expressionism, an artist whose biography is comparable to a novel. The master’s paintings inspire the public no less than a love story that made the painter an object of praise in a creative environment. Modigliani portraits had a unique author’s style and did not give up his vocation, despite the vicissitudes of fate. Fame came to the artist posthumously, and today the paintings cost fabulous money.

What Was His Path to Success?

modigliani drawings

Amedeo Modigliani was born in Livorno on July 12, 1884. His fate was partly a foregone conclusion. Father Amedeo is a famous Italian painter with Jewish roots. When the boy was several years old, his father was overtaken by bankruptcy, and the mother took care of the upbringing and maintenance of the children. In the fourth, youngest, child, she doted on the soul. Amedeo’s soreness added to his mother’s concern, and he responded with the affection traditional for Jewish families.

Evgenia Modigliani, new Garsen, had an excellent education and instilled in children a thirst for knowledge. She knew several foreign languages, and translations became an additional income for the family. Noticing the son’s penchant for the visual arts, the mother at first did not betray this value. But at the age of 11, Amedeo fell ill with typhus and in his delirium talked only about painting. Evgenia made the only right choice. When Modigliani Jr. turned 14, he was sent to study by local artist Guglielmo Micheli.

Becoming the youngest among the mentor’s students, Amedeo quickly decided on the subjects that interested him. Portraits became the main direction of his work. In 1900, Modigliani contracted tuberculosis. To restore health, the mother took her son to the island of Capri, and the lessons were temporarily suspended.

Traveling around Italy, the boy got acquainted with the works of outstanding painters. He visited Rome and Florence. Here the aspiring artist entered the school of painting, and a year later he moved to Venice, where he became a student at the Free School of Nude.

In 1906, Amedeo, with the help of his mother, moved to Paris, which became the capital of the arts during those years. The public at that time was fond of Cubism, so the works that Modigliani put up for sale were not in demand. Having settled in an expensive apartment, the young man was soon forced to move out to a cheap rented apartment, where he painted pictures to order. In parallel, he took lessons at the Colarossi Academy of Painting.

The only source of income for Amedeo was money sent by his mother. Often he had nothing to pay for living, so he had to escape from the rented apartments, leaving the paintings as payment. But in the art world, he gradually won recognition, although this did not affect the financial condition in any way.

Life-Long Creativity

modigliani style

In 1907, Amedeo Modigliani made his debut at the Salon d’Automne in Paris. A year later, his work was exhibited at the Salon of the Independent. During these years, the artist developed his own style. He made friends with Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, painted their portraits and created the paintings “The Jewess”, “The Cellist” and others.

In 1909, his acquaintance with Constantin Brancusi made Amedeo pay attention to the sculpture. In the absence of money for materials, Modigliani steals sandstone and wood from construction sites. He had to leave his passion for this direction of art because of sick lungs.

Modigliani style is fraught with weaknesses that many artists are prone to. He loved hashish, and eventually became addicted to alcohol. Remaining in Paris in 1914, when men were called to the front of the First World War, the artist felt on the brink. The state of physical and mental health left much to be desired. Amedeo continued to paint to order, but critics still did not want to see talent in him.

Modigliani women bear the imprint of a unique author’s manner. The people he depicts seem to have a flat mask instead of a face, behind which individuality is hidden. To see her, it is worth stopping at the picture. In the later period of creativity, the master added roundness to the elongated ovals of the faces.

Working not with space, but with nature, Modigliani drawings created sad, touching images and was fond of visualizing nudity, combining the harmony of color and line. The most famous works of the author in this direction were “Nude Sitting on the Sofa” and “Reclining Nude with a Blue Pillow”.

The Modigliani sketches “Portrait of Zborovsky” and “Alice” were made in the same style. The author neglected the ratio of proportions for the sake of the character’s inner mood. The artist often depicted children and adolescents with melancholic sadness on their faces. Vivid examples of such works are “Portrait of a Girl”, “Girl in Blue”, “Little Peasant”.

The feelings that he experienced brought inspiration to the master. The main love of his life, Jeanne Hébuterne, he repeatedly depicted on canvases. One of the last Modigliani faces was the painting “Jeanne Hébuterne in a red shawl.” It depicts the beloved of the master in anticipation of the second child. The works dedicated to her convey a high degree of sensuality, admiration for the model and love.

Fortune smiled at Modigliani before dying. His work finally attracted the attention of critics, who began to call the author “a budding artist with promise.” Amedeo Modigliani at that time was 35 years old.

Most importantly, despite a critical tendency to emphasize the artist’s unruly and tragic personal life, this study has revealed that Modigliani was anything but chaotic in his painting methods. He developed a highly skilled, unique and consistent technique.

Among the most famous Modigliani art style paintings today you can find:

  • 1909 – “The Beggar of Livorno”
  • 1914 – Portrait of Diego Rivera
  • 1915 – “Portrait of Pablo Picasso”
  • 1915 – Antonia
  • 1916 – “The Bride and Groom”
  • 1917 – Nude on a Blue Pillow
  • 1917 – “Redheaded Woman”
  • 1918 – Alice
  • 1918 – “The Little Girl in Blue”
  • 1919 – “The Singer from Nice”

Amedeo Modigliani was one of the first artists to be passionate about surrealism, with an understanding of art.

His innate charm of freedom, with which he distorted faces and figures, painting them with an almost cartoonish sensitivity, was unrivaled proof of this.

The Artist’s Love for Poetry

modigliani women

It is said that Modigliani regularly reads from the memory of Dante and other poets. He also wrote for a number of renowned contemporary poets and writers, including Blaise Sendrar, Guillaume Apollinaire, and Jean Cocteau.

His favorite text was the Comte de Lautréamont (Isidore-Lucien Ducasse), The Chants of Maldore, which he carried around in his pocket. The reason for his obsession with this particular text may have to do with his own life. Ducasse was remembered as a “sick genius” and “loners”. Modigliani may have felt that this loner reflected his own unpredictable moods and outsider status as an Italian Jew in Paris.

There are many guesses about empty eyes in portraits. Most connoisseurs of art put the following explanation: he draws eyes when he recognizes the soul of a person. We believe that this idea does not fully explain the empty eye sockets in his self-portrait.
Some argue that the eye sockets on his canvases are not empty, but filled with sky-blue color – a symbol of the heavenly infinity of the soul. Others suggest that Amedeo wanted to distract the viewer’s attention from his eyes and show that not only they can be a mirror of the soul. Amedeo Modigliani style features first appeared in his drawings but were fully revealed in his portrait painting. All options are possible and can be correct, but what do you think?

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