Amedeo Clemente Modigliani was an Italian Jewish painter and sculptor who worked mainly in France. He is known for portraits and nudes in a modern style characterized by elongation of faces, necks, and figures.
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A central participant in the Ecole de Paris, Modigliani modernized two of the enduring themes of art history: the portrait and the nude. Characterized by a sense of melancholy, elongated proportions, and mask-like faces influenced by such sources as Constantin Brancusi and African art, Modigliani’s portraits are both specific and highly stylized, each uniquely revealing its sitter’s inner life.
Amedeo, or “Dedo,” Modigliani was the youngest of four children born to Jewish parents, Flaminio and Eugenia, in Livorno, Italy, home to a large Jewish community. Shortly before his birth, the family businesses had fallen onto hard times, forcing the Modiglianis to declare bankruptcy. Amedeo’s timely arrival may have resulted in the rescue of many valuable heirlooms; according to family legend, soldiers were forced to avoid Eugenia in childbirth as they came to repossess the furniture, in accordance with an old Italian custom that forbade the seizure of any possessions in the bed of a woman in labor.
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Modigliani upended the tradition of the nude. Modern in their candid sensuality, his works in this genre are noticeably devoid of the modesty and mythological subtext present in many earlier depictions of nude figures. Because of these qualities – along with the artist’s notorious womanizing – Modigliani’s nudes were scandalously received at the time they were created. Modigliani’s nudes scandalized audiences with their depiction of features such as pubic hair and their frank, unadorned sexuality.
Modigliani’s portraiture achieves a unique combination of specificity and generalization. His portraits convey his subjects’ personalities, while his trademark stylization and use of recurring motifs – long necks and almond-shaped eyes – lends them uniformity. Modigliani’s portraiture also serves as a vital art historic record, comprising a gallery of major figures of the Ecole de Paris circle, to which he belonged following his move to Paris in 1906.
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The work of the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi was perhaps the single most important influence on Modigliani’s creative development. Although Modigliani is best known as a painter, he focused on sculpture early on in his career, and, some writers have argued, may have regarded his true calling as that of sculptor. The sculptures Modigliani created in 1909-14, of which twenty-five carvings and one woodcut survive, were highly influential on his work as a painter, helping him arrive at the abstracted and linear vocabulary of his painting.
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Info sources: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Amedeo-Modigliani https://www.theartstory.org/artist/modigliani-amedeo/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amedeo_Modigliani https://www.museothyssen.org/en/collection/artists/modigliani-amedeo