You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

Amedeo Modigliani

January 24, 2018

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