Amedeo Modigliani 1884-1920 BACK

A Blond Woman (Portrait Of Germaine Survage)
oil on canvas
Musee Des Beaux Artst

The English art historian and novelist, John Berger, once noted that Modigliani's paintings are amongst the most popular of the twentieth century. According to Berger, this exceptional popularity, paired with a certain scepticism amongst art critics, has its roots in the fact that Modigliani's pictures are imbued with love and tenderness for the people depicted in them. One could add a further reason: at the beginning of this century, Modigliani still held fast to an intact image of human beings. It is an image determined by repose and freedom, by elegance and grace and sometimes also by melancholy. "Happiness is an angel with a serious face", Modigliani wrote on a postcard to his friend, Paul Alexandre, from Livorno in June 1913; this sentence expresses both the poetic and contemplative attitude of the artist. He certainly cannot be considered the "admirable painter of pain" for whom life would have been unbearable "without suffering as the source of the creative urge", as claimed by Gustave Coquiot and the artist Othon Friesz (1879 1949). Modigliani, susceptible to illness since childhood, lived a free and dissipated life and left behind a large and important body of work.

excerpt from Modigliani by Doris Krystof

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