Amadeo Modigliani's (Livorno, 1884 - Paris, 1920) brief but intense career underpins the origin of his reputation as an accursed artist. This exhibition endeavours to rise above the myth, instead revealing an unknown artist by virtue of the collection of four hundred drawings that belonged to his good friend Dr Paul Alexandre.
The exhibit opens up the possibility of discovering Modigliani's devotion to drawing practices. Due to ill health and serious respiratory problems, his studio is practically out of bounds, but his drawings reveal his desire to become a sculptor and constitute the convergence of his pictorial and sculptural work.
This collection of drawings, organised by Noel Alexandre, historian and son of Dr Paul Alexandre, are classified into eleven groups based on origin and theme: the oldest drawings and watercolours; a notebook from 1906-1907 with fifty sketches and two paintings; five drawings acquired “when we first met”; theatre, circus, marionettes and drawings influenced by theatre; caryatids and related drawings; sculptural heads; three one-off drawings; academic studies; other nude drawings; drawn portraits and portraits to be painted.
Together, these works reveal Modigliani's life and interests - thematic, artistic, aesthetic - just before he arrives in Paris in 1906, although they do paint a more precise picture of the years of his friendship with Paul Alexandre, between 1907 and 1914. They reflect the precarious financial situation he shares with resident artists in the building known as Bateau Lavoir and others he shares living quarters with, for instance in the house Rue du Delta, founded by the brothers Jean and Paul Alexandre, and the la Ruche and la Cité Falguière, in the neighbourhood of Montparnasse.
The analysis of his drawings enables certain aspects related to the definition of his own language to be revealed. There is the enthusiasm for primitive sculpture, from Africa, India and Khmère (originating from Indochina), which he tests and explores with Paul Alexandre and the artist Constantin Brancusi, who he meets 1907 and who reaffirms his devotion to sculpture through his friendship and teaching of techniques.
The series Caryatids (1909-1911) shows how Modigliani appropriates formal approaches of African and Asian sculpture: the capacity for abstraction and synthesis, a liking for volumetric bodies, elongated necks and the convex-concave combination of the heads are some of the characteristics he employs in his work.
Towards 1912 Modigliani declares, “Plenitude is approaching... everything will be marble”, although he employs paper as the support for his sculptural drawings, avoiding light and shade techniques but capturing relief through the precision of his drawing and the monumentality he bestows upon his figures.
Palazzo Grassi, Venice (September 4, 1993 - January 4, 1994); The Royal Academy of Art, London (January 14 - April 4, 1994); Museum Ludwig, Cologne (April 15 - July 10, 1994); Oud Sint-Jan Kunstcentrum, Bruges (July 16 - October 2, 1994); The Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo (October 14 - December 25, 1994); Culturgest, Lisbon (January 6 - February 26, 1995); Musée des Beaux-Arts, Montreal (March 15 - May 14, 1995)
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< Garden of Mixtures: Attempts to Make Place, 1995 -… >
Alejandra Riera (*)
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Isidoro Valcárcel MedinaMuestras documentales, Biblioteca y Centro de Documentación