Modigliani: A Life

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Despite the fact that Picasso was already successful and really did not need to engage in banter with someone like Modigliani, he was fascinated by Modi and his art. This friction filled relationship was best illustrated in the Modigliani movie, starring Andy Garcia. That film made a wonderful companion piece to this biography. Despite all of those manipulations, you can still recognize the subject.

Customer Reviews

That just confirms for me that Modi was tapping into something real, too real, certainly not idealized. Nude Sitting on a Divan one of my favorites. He created his characteristic nude in a variety of ways: by imitating the poses of great paintings, by using a sensuous line to define the form of the body; by stripping his nude of virtually all context and attributes in order to focus on the essential female ; by following Gauguin, in using a darker, more realistic skin color and frankly showing pubic hair; and by establishing intimacy with, rather than creating distance from, his nudes.

They served as models, bed warmers, financial supporters, and ultimately, most of them were eventually replaced by someone new.

Modi had his share of lovers. The famous Russian poet Anna Akhmatova even briefly became involved with him. Jeanne, Jeanne, poor Jeanne. Jeanne Hebuterne She took care of him as best she could, but really what Modi needed to do was quit drinking and eat three squares a day, and even though Jeanne basically stood on the tracks in front of the careening carriage of death, she could not stop the inevitable.

Modi died at the age of 35 from tubercular meningitis. Jeanne, devoted to the end, view spoiler [hurled herself out of a fifth story window, killing herself and her unborn infant, two days after the death of Modi. The baby would have been the second child she had with Modigliani. The s brought a flood or rich speculators to Paris who bought art and took it back to the US, which fueled even more interest in the art coming out of Paris.

He was so close, so wretchedly close, to realizing his dream of financial success and being recognized as an important artist. View all 11 comments. Feb 03, Louise rated it really liked it Shelves: biography , artists , france-bio-hist , italy. This is a story of the Paris art scene at the turn of the century with Modigliani as its leading character. It is begins with solid biographical material on his childhood and ends with a strong report on his death and aftermath.

It is a short book, so it is significant that pages are spent on each of his artist and romantic friends and that there are pages and pages describing works that do not appear in the book. There is nothing glamorous about these starving artists in Paris.

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The hand to This is a story of the Paris art scene at the turn of the century with Modigliani as its leading character. The hand to mouth existence meant little food and no heat in the winter. There is too much alcohol and its resulting violence. Nothing was clean. One of his friends, the artist Chaim Soutine, was said to house bed bugs in his ear. Modigliani did not have to live this way.

He was from an aristocratic not fully wealthy, but comfortable family from Livorno. Tuberculosis, alcoholism, drug addiction, an unnamed STD, poor nutrition, a squalid living situation and exposure no heat culminated in his death at age His good looks and artist style drew many women to his flame. Those who could support him lasted a while. He has attained some fame and success and remains aloof.

Modigliani: a life

World War I also looms and claims, directly or indirectly, some lives of this Paris art scene. He concludes that Modigliani had peaked and his style was not likely to grow or change. I'd still like to find a complete bio of this tortured soul, but this book and Modigliani: A Life may be all there is to say. View all 3 comments. Dec 07, Bill rated it really liked it. If you ever had romantic notions of Parisian bohemia a century ago read this book.

It will break you of such notions.


Bohemia was only romantic if you could escape from it. If you could not escape the poverty, the place was a killer. I recommend this book to all those who aspire to be artisticly poor. Mar 21, Anne Stokey Glaspy rated it it was ok. Read it for book club - too academic and detailed for my taste. Not a pretty picture of the twenties in the art community in Paris! Debauchery reigned between creative bursts of artistic endeavours! Modi knew them all with lots of supporters. Mar 08, Designlover rated it really liked it.

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  • Meryle Secrest's 'Modigliani: A Life' tells the agony behind an artist's ideal!
  • Book review: ‘Modigliani: A Life’ by Meryle Secrest.

Jun 26, Cory Brashears unrein rated it liked it. Great book if you need exhaustive detail on the life and work of Modigliani. Aug 23, Laurie rated it it was ok. Didn't seem to have enough material for a whole book. Alot of extraneous stuff about other happenings at the time that seemed to be there only to puff up the book. Lola rated it it was amazing Mar 09, Bryan Strangethings Moss rated it it was amazing Jul 22, Diane Gaunt rated it it was amazing Apr 17, Miles rated it really liked it Oct 18, Kent Lauridsen rated it really liked it Sep 30, Ayan Uddin rated it it was amazing Aug 27, Dianna rated it it was ok Oct 06, John Hardon rated it it was amazing Aug 21, Jennifer Finnell rated it really liked it Apr 07, Strangethings rated it it was amazing Mar 27, Barbara Ashley rated it did not like it Sep 08, Karen Nunley rated it liked it Jan 30, Mark rated it it was ok Apr 30, Randy rated it really liked it Sep 02, Michael rated it it was ok Apr 20, Elizabeth rated it liked it Sep 03, In , after training in Florence and Venice, the young man arrived in Paris to make his way as an artist.

He fell in with the avant-garde crowd in Montmartre, staying up all night drinking cheap coffee and debating art theory with Picasso, Braque, Derain, Vlaminck, Valadon, Utrillo and Gris. Material comfort was not only a low priority but artistically counterproductive. Modigliani himself was incapable of holding on to money for long, showing a preference, conscious or subconscious, for living on the edge.

Between and , he focused on sculpture. Alongside his friend and mentor, Brancusi, he became inspired by African art to simplify figural forms in an effort to penetrate to a perceived essence.

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He achieved a unique, personal style, elegant and vaguely classicizing, from which he rarely wavered. The disease was the leading killer in France circa , and it is hard to believe that people would not have recognized the afflictions of Modigliani.

Modigliani: A Life -- book review

While these stories are quite colorful and frequently compelling, maintaining the line between fact and fiction proves a terrific challenge. Modigliani was able to surround himself with loyalists, people like the doctor Paul Alexandre and the dealers Paul Guillaume and Leopold Zborowski, who were attracted to his charismatic personality and believed in his conviction that he was an important artist, a treasure to be preserved. Women adored him, mothered him, paid his bills. In his final years, he managed his own income through sales of paintings, and lived with the young, fragile Jeanne Heburterne, with whom he had a child.

There are titillating stories of his work left behind, neglected and destroyed, given away or sold for a pittance, only to become in later years ludicrously valuable. Secrest does a valiant job of bringing this over-hyped, over-blown story down to earth with a professionally attuned ear to sifting through unreliable information.