Modigliani: Unfortunate Genius

Amedeo Modigliani
is one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, with his distinguished
style and signature portraits. He could probably
become even greater, if only he had more time. His life marked with a lot of
passion and a lot of suffering, his works are full of empathy and soul. Modigliani’s
image was wrapped in a mystery, so in this article we will try to come closer
to his philosophy, life and oeuvre.


Modigliani always wanted to become a sculptor. He moved from his hometown in Italy
to Paris in order to become one. His family was very poor and suffered from the
financial difficulties, as well as the artist himself. He was not praised
during his life, but later become much more popular and now is considered as a
modernist master. Who knows what else he could have achieved, if not for his
illness and death in 1920 at the age of 35.


He created
quite a reputation, even for the artistic circles of avant-garde Paris. There
were rumors of him being a hopeless alcoholic and heavy drug user. But at the
same time, he was the one to spread the rumors, thus wrapping his persona in a scandalous veil of mystery and vagabond-like lifestyle; Modigliani was fond of practical
jokes and often made up stories about his life. Some said he was only creating
an alluring legend to cover up his struggle with tuberculosis (people with this
illness were ostracized in a society because it was quite contagious and incurable).
Many art historians draw a line between Amedeo Modigliani and Vincent van Gogh
for the tragic life and for the rejection of their oeuvre among the contemporaries.

But let’s
talk about his art. Modigliani, as many of his modernist colleagues, was fond
of the tribal art and prehistoric cultures. He took great interest in the
Egyptian art, and we can see

in his portraits

the resemblance with the Egyptian
style. It is seen even more in his sculpture works.


We can easily
notice the depiction of eyes, they seem empty or fogged. “When I know your
soul, I will paint your eyes.” that is a quote by author himself. He painted
his beloved friends, strangers, Parisian bohemian artists and poets. 


 “What I
look for is neither reality nor unreality but the subconscious, the instinctive
mystery of the human race.”


Since 1917 Jeanne
Hébuterne, 19-year-old art student, became his primary model. 


Modigliani fell
crazy in love, and it was a mutual feeling. But their love story is a sad one.
After he died, Hébuterne committed suicide while being pregnant with their
second child.

During his
lifetime, Modigliani sold many of his works, but for the ridiculous amount of
money. He used to pay the bills in the restaurants with the paintings. Now he
is worth millions and millions of dollars and could be easily put among the
most praised artists of the 20th century. He had a tragic story,
a wild reputation and incredibly significant art manner, different from
everything known to the public. If only the world hadn’t been so harsh on him;
if only he hadn’t been so harsh on himself. But as he said, “It is your duty in
life to save your dream.”. And Modigliani followed this principle, and was
trying hard to save his dream – to create, to paint, to work, to be inspired by
the world.

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