The art of Modigliani, from the knowledge of Brâncuși to the latest works

Modigliani begins to paint in his Livorno in a style similar to that of the Macchiaioli, but his art will change radically after his stay in Paris and later, with his maturity, there will be a further change on a stylistic level, due to the settling of the operational choices. The sum of influences that will characterize his production will lead him to a production that can hardly be pigeonholed into a specific genre: his art is characterized by simplicity and formal purity. Fundamental to Modigliani's art is the knowledge of Constântin Brâncuși, which leads the Italian to devote himself almost entirely to sculpture, although he will then be forced by his illness to return to painting, sculpture being a much more tiring and debilitating activity for the artist's physicist. The particular elongated figures are unmistakable of the sculptural production, but also the reduction to a minimum, in terms of simplicity of lines and shapes. These elements of formal purity are derived precisely from the art of the Romanian sculptor.

In the Testa from around 1911-12, the artist's desire to deform what should be a normal human face is clearly evident. The proportions are totally upset, in favor of a flattening or lengthening of the nose, mouth, eyes. Everything is aimed at schematization, without any kind of decoration. The appearance that Modigliani's works assume echoes African masks, primitive art already much investigated by the French Fauves, a group of artists active in the two-year period 1905-07, but also by the Cubists, united by the geometrization of forms. However, his painting, made of grace, pronounced contours, tendency to elongation of proportions, also denotes the inspiration that the artist draws from his cultural background, and in particular from the great Tuscan artists of the past such as Simone Martini (Siena, 1284 - Avignon, ca 1344), but also Filippo Lippi (Florence, 1406 - Spoleto, 1469) and Sandro Botticelli (Florence, 1445 - Florence, 1510), author of the famous Primavera preserved in the Uffizi gallery in Florence.

After the abandonment of sculpture, the "sculptural" elements of his production move on to painting, so much so that the subjects of his paintings will soon begin to reflect the research of formal purity that Modigliani was following in sculpture. This is also noticeable in his numerous portraits, where the subjects are rendered with schematic shapes and according to a geometrization aimed at transmitting to the relative the most recognizable elements of the characteristics of the subject, but are also characterized by an extraordinary sharpness in their psychological penetration. With other works, such as his famous nudes, Amedeo Modigliani will also be able to obtain extraordinarily intense and free, as well as sensual, results.

Modigliani does not actually belong to a specific current, nor has he ever declared himself to have referred to the great masters. On the contrary, he explicitly chooses not to want to approach the futurist avant-garde, much less the French one. But there is no doubt the gaze and attention to the trends that then circulated in metropolitan Paris at the beginning of the twentieth century. His work is in fact isolated from the various trends.

Reproduction of some famous works by Modigliani can be found on

Comments (0)

Product added to wishlist
Product added to compare.