Amedeo Modigliani 1884-1920 BACK

Portrait of Beatrice Hastings
oil on canvas 81x54cm
Private Collection

The early portraits-those painted in 1915 and 1916, immediately after the sculpture period-are marked by a considerable degree of structuring applied to the human face. They are simplified and are endowed to a greater or lesser degree with articulation and rhythm, by the formal manipulations to which they are subjected. Often this formal process has taken place in the pencil studies that precede the paintings. Characteristic features are asymmetry and, as we have seen, an emphasis on the nose, whether linear or stercometric; closed or hatched-over eyes; and added lettering. The faces threaten to veer out of control, but the cause is never expressive, always formal, and never prevents the emergence of a characteristic and individual expression. This is exemplified by, among many others, the likenesses of Max Jacob, Paul Guillaume, Mofse Kisling, Juan Gris, Celso Lagar and the young Raymond Radiguet, Jean Cocteau's friend.

excerpt from Modigliani by Werner Schalenbach

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