Closing Soon: Modigliani at Tate Modern, London 

Open until April 2, 2018, Tate Modern’s Modigliani is the first comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s work in the UK. As you can read in this post, Modigliani was born in Livorno in 1884. At 22 he moved to Paris where he discovered the avant-garde. Despite being in Paris at the same time as the development of cubism, Modigliani focused on figurative painting. He was particularly fascinated by the human body, focusing mostly on portraiture. His representations of the female nude are among the most intimate of twentieth-century painting. Showing uncensored female bodies in languid sleep, the nudes were highly controversial during Modigliani’s lifetime, leading the police to censor his only solo exhibition on grounds of indecency. Modigliani died extremely young in 1920. He left behind a sizeable ouvre which reveals the evolution of his skill in depicting the human form and its emotions. 

Tate Modern’s exhibition offers a wide-ranging presentation of this oeuvre. Familiar themes such as the nude are explored in more detail than ever before. Self-portraits and archival footage creatively place the artist in his historical context by presenting his search for identity in the electric environment of the ville lumière. Overall traditional in its presentation of the artist, the exhibition also contains some surprises. While the artist’s portraiture is renown for his emotional intensity, outstanding drawings such as Caryatid revealed his interest in the idealised beauty of the antique. Classical purity and abstraction also coexisted in Modigliani’s sculptures of female busts. Beautifully presented in a dedicated room, the sculptures were my favorite element of the show and the biggest revelation of this historic retrospective of the outstanding Italian artist. 

By Costanza Beltrami

Modigliani is at Tate Modern, London until 2 April 2018

Modigliani in his studio, photograph by Paul Guillaume, c.1915
©RMN-Grand Palais (musée de l’Orangerie), Archives Alain Bouret, image Dominique Couto

Jeanne Hébuterne, 1919, oil paint on canvas, 914 x 730 mm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Seated Nude, 1917, oil paint on canvas, 1140 x 740 mm, Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, Lukasart in Flanders. Photo credit: Hugo Maertens

Caryatid, c.1913-4 Amedeo Modigliani © Tate

Head, c.1911, stone, 394 x 311 x 187 mm, Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Lois Orswell, © President and Fellows of Harvard College

Woman’s Head (With Chignon), 1911-12, sandstone, 572 x 219 x 235 mm, Merzbacher Kunststiftung

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