MODIGLIANI, AMEDEO (1884–1920), painter. Modigliani was born in Leghorn, the son of a small businessman. One of his brothers, vittorio emanuele modigliani , was an active Socialist leader. Amedeo studied art in Florence and Venice. In 1905 he went to Paris. While there, though leading a life of dissipation, he learned a great deal from Cézanne, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec and from African sculpture. He greatly admired the last and his own sculpture was in a similar simplified abstract style. Despite his many love affairs, his excesses of drunkenness and frequent lapses into illness aggravated by poverty, he managed to produce a substantial body of work within his relatively short career. More than 20 of his sculptures, some 500 paintings, and thousands of watercolors and drawings have survived. Modigliani usually painted single figures with backgrounds only vaguely defined. There are portraits of his fellow artists and of the two women who played leading roles in his life, the English poet, Beatrice Hastings, with whom he lived from 1914 to 1916, and later his wife, Jeanne Hébuterne. His sitters included the streetwalkers of the Left Bank whom Modigliani never made pretty but who always evoke pity. His portraits look as if he had caught the sitter in a moment of utter fatigue, lonely and devoid of glamor or gaiety. Their energy has been drained and their hands dangle limply on their laps. Their heads are inclined and their eyes look listlessly and unseeing, as though staring from another world. His women seem to be constructed of almond shapes connected by cylindrical necks to larger ovoids formed by the rounded shoulders of the upper body. Modigliani was a superb draftsman and his color sense was fascinating. His sensuous nudes are painted in broad planes of vivid ochre, orange, and earthy hues, surrounded by strong lines. His iridescent tones are achieved by covering thin layers of color with many coats of varnish. In 1917 his only one-man show was a complete fiasco. The police ordered the five canvases of nudes to be removed and this led to a scandal. It was soon after his death that the greatness of his work was discovered and his paintings and sculpture were acquired by leading museums and collectors all over the world. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: F. Russoli, Modigliani (Eng., 1959); A. Werner, Modigliani the Sculptor (1962, 1965); J. Modigliani, Modigliani (Eng., 1958). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: D. Krystof, Modigliani (Taschen, 2000); A. Kruszinski, Amadeo Modigliani: Portraits and Nudes (2005); J. Meyers, Modigliani: A Life (2006). (Alfred Werner)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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