You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.
Painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani died on this date in 1920. Best known for painting elongated, nude women with impassive, mask-like faces, Modigliani became a drug and alcohol abuser who lived a starving artist’s life in Paris until dying from tubercular meningitis at age 36. He was born into a Sephardic family in Livorno, Italy, and was drawn to the arts at a very young age; however, upon arriving in Paris in 1906, he destroyed almost all of his earlier works, deriding them as “Childish baubles, done when I was a dirty bourgeois.” The French gendarmes were scandalized by his nudes and in 1917 closed down the only solo exhibition of his life within a few hours of its opening at the Berthe Weill Gallery. That same year he met the love of his life, Jeanne Hébuterne, an artist who had a daughter with him and was nearly nine months pregnant when she committed suicide two days after Modigliani’s death. While Modigliani died penniless, his works of art are now high-priced collectibles, such as his Nu Couché (Reclining Nude), which was purchased at auction in 2015 for 170 million dollars.
“When I know your soul, I will paint your eyes” —Amedeo Modigliani