Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) – A Revolutionary Painter and Sculptor

Amedeo Clemente Modigliani or Amedeo Modigliani, one of the most popular artists of the 20th century, was born on July 12, 1884 to a Jewish family, in Livorno, Italy. He moved to France in 1906 and practiced there for most part of his career. Right from his childhood, Modigliani suffered from various health problems such as pleurisy (1895) and typhoid (1898). In 1898, considering his feeble physical health, he was dropped out of regular school to join the Art Academy in Livorno. One year later, he again took ill with pleurisy and got infected with tuberculosis, which allegedly claimed his life.

In 1898, he joined Micheli's Art School and remained there for a couple of years. It was here that Amedeo's formal artistic education took place. His first art teacher, Guglielmo Micheli, introduced him to a movement called 'Macchiaioli,' a group of iconoclasts. Micheli encouraged him to study landscape painting, portraiture, still life, and the nude in which he exhibited his finest talent. Amedeo, who detested his teacher's approach, was neverless one of the favorite students of Micheli who lovingly called him the 'Superman.'

In 1902, Modigliani joined the Free School of Nude Studies in Florence and a year later, he moved to Venice and enrolled in Istituto di Belle Arti. It was here that he took up to smoking hashish and visiting places, where no respectful man would go. He moved to Paris in 1906, where he studied about the Italian Renaissance painters, and was often compared to Botticelli. Modigliani though was influenced by Fauves and Cubists, and by the sculptor Brancusi; yet his compositions maintained his unique and distinct style. In 1907, he won his first patron, Dr. Paul Alexandre, who purchased a large collection of his works. Amedeo displayed his work at Salon d'Automne in the years 1907 and 1912, and at Salon des Ind├ępendants in the years 1908, 1910, and 1911. The only solo show to his name was at the Galerie Berthe Weill in December 1917.

Modigliani's famous paintings include the "Portrait of Maude (1907)," the "Head of a Woman with a Hat (1907)," the Red Nude (1917), "the" Portrait of Jaques & Berthe Lipchitz (1916) & the "Seated Nude (1918)." His sculptures include the "Head (1911)" and the "Rose Caryatid (1914)." Modigliani shifted to Paris in 1919, and continued to paint in spite of his deteriorating health and frequent blackouts. He finally breathed his last on January 24, 1920 at a young age of 35 due to tubercular meningitis. He was survived by his nine months pregnant wife, Jeanne Hebuterne, and his daughter Jeanne. Two days after Modigliani's death, Hebuterne jumped from the window of her parents' house, leaving behind her daughter Jeanne to be brought up by her maternal grandparents.