Art dealer and collector, 1891-1934
Because he was very poor and got drunk as often as he could, he was for a long time looked down upon -even in the artistic community, where some prejudices are more deeply rooted than is generally believed. Amedeo Modigliani, born in Livorno, was a Jew and liked to think of himself and his art as Jewish.
Rather strangely, he was the protege of a distinguished woman poet, Beatrice Hastings, who had been a circus rider in the Transvaal, and with whom he had some stormy, not to say tragic, times. He left many portraits of her which will have to be taken into account when the story of his life is written, for love and passion played an important role in it. In 1915 he left Montparnasse to set.up a studio that I rented for him at 13 Rue Ravignon. It was a historic wooden building that had been witness to difficult, and heroic, moments in the lives of Picasso, Max Jacob, the Douanier Rousseau, and many painters who are today more or less famous.
From then on he gave up sculpture, drew less frequently and began to paint-to paint as he lived, sentimentally, violently, erratically, wastefully. I use this last word advisedly, because it characterizes accurately Modigliani's extraordinary life.
The painter was, in fact, a poet. He loved and judged poetry not with the cold partiality of a university professor, but with a spirit mysteriously equipped to appreciate all that was sensitive and adventurous. Nevertheless, by nature he had the gusto of an Old Testament prophet.
His pencil drawings, which he scattered carelessly around, were often embellished with snippets of remembered poetry or philosophy. When improvising poetry he took a comical liberty with rhymes. I remember:
Il y a dans le corridor Un hornme qui Wen veut a mort.
Ma plus belle maitresse C'est la paresse.
From: Enzo Maiolino (ed.), Modigliani vivo, p. 169 ff