Modigliani at Shelter Rock

Modigliani unmasked, exhibition of Modigliani’s artwork is on display at the Jewish Museum thru February 4, 2018.  In anticipation, I attended an enlightening lecture by the entertaining, brilliant Inez Powell, of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The lecture was free, at the Shelter Rock Library on Friday, December 15.

Inez Powell, art historian, lecturer from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Jewish artist never sold his work while alive. His benefactor, Dr. Alexandre who ran a home for artists, known as “Delta House” had provided a roof over his head and made sure the hard drinking, drug abusing painter and others were productive. He purchased paintings for pennies, certainly not the millions of dollars they are worth today, and which his descendants were enriched. In fact, son of a merchant, Modigliani rarely had the money to feed himself. He’s be stated by to know his painting “The Amazon” of 1909 sold in 2013 for $20 million dollars.

Dashingly handsome, Amadeo was known as Modi” by is friends. He had many lovers, favorite among them was the 6-foot tall, Russian poetAnna Akmatova (1889-1966), whom he drew often. (He was merely 5’7″and he associated her with Egyptian art.  Both shared a passion for it and a “union of spirit.”

Modigliani learned sculpture from Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957) and the sculptor’s face is said to be that of “The Chellist,” a painting by Modigliani in 1909.  had many lovers, but no wife. He suffered with breathing problems since childhood, which restricted him to study at home, where he first realized he loved to draw and art became his passion. He died of tuberculosis in 1920, aged 36. At his funeral, Ms. Powell said, the art collectors were gathered, ready to buy up what they could.

Unique to Modigliani, was his style of elongating the heads of his models. He had an affinity for and was strongly influenced by Egyptian, Greek, African and Khmer sculpture and art. His drawings and paintings and limestone sculptures of unnaturally long heads, were similar to African masks.

Head of a woman by Modigliani
Lunia, by Modigliani

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There I am taking notes and getting the “inside scoop” from the erudite lecturer

The Jewish Museum presents an exhibition of early drawings by Amedeo Modigliani—many of which are being shown for the first time in the United States. Acquired directly from the artist by Dr. Paul Alexandre, his close friend and first patron, these works illuminate Modigliani’s heritage as an Italian Sephardic Jew as pivotal to understanding his artistic output.

Amedeo Modigliani, c. 1912, Image provided by PVDE / Bridgeman Images, New York

Modigliani Unmasked considers the celebrated artist Amedeo Modigliani (Italian, 1884-1920) shortly after he arrived in Paris in 1906, when the city was still roiling with anti-Semitism after the long-running tumult of the Dreyfus Affair and the influx of foreign emigres. Modigliani’s Italian-Sephardic background helped forge a complex cultural identity that rested in part on the ability of Italian Jews historically to assimilate and embrace diversity. The exhibition puts a spotlight on Modigliani’s drawings, and shows that his art cannot be fully understood without acknowledging the ways the artist responded to the social realities that he confronted in the unprecedented artistic melting pot of Paris. The drawings from the Alexandre collection reveal the emerging artist himself, enmeshed in his own particular identity quandary, struggling to discover what portraiture might mean in a modern world of racial complexity.

The exhibition includes approximately 150 works, those from the Alexandre collection as well as a selection of Modigliani’s paintings, sculptures, and other drawings from collections around the world. Modigliani’s art will be complemented by work representative of the various multicultural influences—African, Greek, Egyptian, and Khmer—that inspired the young artist during this lesser-known early period.

Among the works featured are a mysterious, unfinished portrait of Dr. Alexandre, never seen before in the United States; impressions of the theater; life studies and female nudes, among them the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova; and drawings of caryatids and heads, which are telling of Modigliani’s sculptures, which he created over a five-year period from 1909 to 1914.

#ModiglianiUnmasked

Modigliani Unmasked is organized by Mason Klein, Senior Curator, The Jewish Museum.The exhibition was designed by Galia Solomonoff and Talene Montgomery of SAS/Solomonoff Architecture Studio.

Modigliani Unmasked is made possible by The Jerome L. Greene Foundation.

Additional support is generously provided by Barbara and Ira A. Lipman, the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations, Capital One, an anonymous gift in memory of Curtis Hereld, and the Robert Lehman Foundation.
The exhibition is also supported by the Centennial Fund, the Horace W. Goldsmith Exhibitions Endowment Fund, and the Stanley, Marion, Paul and Edward Bergman Family Foundation.

The catalogue is made possible by endowment support from the Dorot Publication Fund.

The audioguide is made possible by

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