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Amedeo Modigliani

Amedeo Modigliani

Known for his intimate portraits, Modigliani (1884–1920) would become recognized for his uniquely modern style characterized by elongated figures and faces. Though not received well during his lifetime, his work later received great acclaim. He spent his youth studying the art of antiquity and philosophy, developing the belief that the only route to true creativity was through defiance and disorder.

He moved to Paris in 1906, then the focal point of the avant-garde, where he met prominent artists such as Pablo Picasso and Juan Gris. Within his first year, Modigliani dramatically transformed himself, crafting a charade persona and cultivating his reputation as a hopeless drunk and voracious drug user. This act may have been a way to mask his tuberculosis, which was the leading cause of death in France by 1900—there was no cure, and those who had it were feared and ostracized. Modigliani thrived on camaraderie and would not let himself be isolated, so continued using to ease his physical pain allowing him to continue to create his art. In 1920, he died in Paris of tuberculosis at age 35.