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Modigliani by Doris Krystof
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Modigliani (2000)

by Doris Krystof

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Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) – The Poetry of Seeing: Six elegant essays by art historian Doris Krystof along with dozens of full color illustrations of the artist’s works. I so much enjoyed this book published by Taschen. To share a bit of Modigliani rasa, here are several quotes from the book along with my comments:

“Entwined with the name of Modigliani are all manner of ideas about the Bohemian life in Paris, the fateful poverty of the artist and his grand passions. Modigliani is the prototype of the artist who executes his work in the draughty studios of Montmartre and Montparnasse, intoxicated by alcohol, hashish, love and poetry.” ---------- Author Doris Krystof does a good job separating myth from known facts, that is, from the artist’s day to day living and ever evolving approach of his art.

“The “spoiled brat” becomes a dandy and “the last real Bohemian.” The small, sickly boy in Livorno becomes the great, suffering artist in Paris, the painter who spares neither his strength nor his health in the creation of his work.” ---------- This can be a lesson for us all: to never limit ourselves to our life in the present since our identity, our gifts, our capacities are forever changing; we never really know what greatness we might be capable.


“Mondigliani appears to have spent the time before he moved to Paris more in the intensive study of Italian art history than in any further training as an artist. Nevertheless, his studies in Italy, the visits to original paintings and sculptures and thus the appreciation of an art historical tradition, the discovery of “forms of beauty and harmony,” as he put it in his letter from Rome, where some of the most important foundations for the later development of Modigliani’s art.” ---------- The artist’s acquaintance with the magnificent tradition of Italian art enriched his own experience and deepened his work; or, to put it another way, as in literature, where a writer is empowered by extensive reading, so an artist is empowered by extensive seeing.

The eyes – “mirrors of the soul” – play an unusually important role in the work of the Symbolist painters. Whether closed as in sleep, open or blind, they are always a visionary organ, one which can be directed both outwards and inwards. This is significant for Modigliani’s later development as a painter, insofar as the eyes of his sitters also take on the visionary role they had already played for the Symbolists.” ---------- For me and perhaps for others, like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland where his grin lingers after his body disappears, so with a Modigliani portrait, the eyes linger even when other features might fad from memory.


“With his talent for the concentrated portrayal of the characteristic traits of his sitters, and with his feeling for elegant forms and colors, Modigliani could easily have become one of the most sought-after portraitists of Parisian high society.” ---------- A telling sign of a visionary artist: he refused to be swayed by the lure of commercial success.

“Preparatory drawings for The Amazon allow one to see how Modigliani slowly encircled his subject, playing through various possibilities of expression before finally arriving at a subtle understanding of the portrayed person.” ---------- These preparatory drawings are such a revealer of the process of how the artist wanted to peel away layer after layer of superficiality and strike at the truth of the sitter’s humanness.




“Modigliani’s work as a sculptor was enormously beneficial to his painting. It was through sculpture that he formally arrived at reduction, linearity and abstraction, the components of his own personal, homogeneous pictorial language.” ---------- Similar to how a playwright can improve their writing having been an actor, so Modigliani is a prime example of how working within one art form can strengthen another.

“Modigliani’s approach to art appears removed from the sphere of aesthetic debate. His sculptures were not really responses to the challenges of the genre; rather, as their lyric description as “columns of tenderness” suggests, they arose out of a comprehensive, poetic understanding of art. It is well known that Modigliani was a great lover of poetry, that he could recite entire passages of Dante and Petrarch from memory and often did so, sometimes even while painting.” ---------- This really shows how being an artist is not a head trip, how painting and poetry are linked much more directly to the passions, feelings and the senses.




“The development of photography, as well as the desire for artistic autonomy, meant that by the beginning of the twentieth century the genre of portraiture had lost much of its original function of depicting the likeness of a person. Modigliani is the only artist of classical Modernism who still concentrated almost exclusively on the actual subject.” ---------- Modigliani’s prime chosen art form was the portrait and he wasn’t about to be dissuaded by any modern technology.
( )
  Glenn_Russell | Nov 13, 2018 |


Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) – The Poetry of Seeing: Six elegant essays by art historian Doris Krystof along with dozens of full color illustrations of the artist’s works. I so much enjoyed this book published by Taschen. To share a bit of Modigliani rasa, here are several quotes from the book along with my comments:

“Entwined with the name of Modigliani are all manner of ideas about the Bohemian life in Paris, the fateful poverty of the artist and his grand passions. Modigliani is the prototype of the artist who executes his work in the draughty studios of Montmartre and Montparnasse, intoxicated by alcohol, hashish, love and poetry.” ---------- Author Doris Krystof does a good job separating myth from known facts, that is, from the artist’s day to day living and ever evolving approach of his art.

“The “spoiled brat” becomes a dandy and “the last real Bohemian.” The small, sickly boy in Livorno becomes the great, suffering artist in Paris, the painter who spares neither his strength nor his health in the creation of his work.” ---------- This can be a lesson for us all: to never limit ourselves to our life in the present since our identity, our gifts, our capacities are forever changing; we never really know what greatness we might be capable.


“Mondigliani appears to have spent the time before he moved to Paris more in the intensive study of Italian art history than in any further training as an artist. Nevertheless, his studies in Italy, the visits to original paintings and sculptures and thus the appreciation of an art historical tradition, the discovery of “forms of beauty and harmony,” as he put it in his letter from Rome, where some of the most important foundations for the later development of Modigliani’s art.” ---------- The artist’s acquaintance with the magnificent tradition of Italian art enriched his own experience and deepened his work; or, to put it another way, as in literature, where a writer is empowered by extensive reading, so an artist is empowered by extensive seeing.

The eyes – “mirrors of the soul” – play an unusually important role in the work of the Symbolist painters. Whether closed as in sleep, open or blind, they are always a visionary organ, one which can be directed both outwards and inwards. This is significant for Modigliani’s later development as a painter, insofar as the eyes of his sitters also take on the visionary role they had already played for the Symbolists.” ---------- For me and perhaps for others, like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland where his grin lingers after his body disappears, so with a Modigliani portrait, the eyes linger even when other features might fad from memory.


“With his talent for the concentrated portrayal of the characteristic traits of his sitters, and with his feeling for elegant forms and colors, Modigliani could easily have become one of the most sought-after portraitists of Parisian high society.” ---------- A telling sign of a visionary artist: he refused to be swayed by the lure of commercial success.

“Preparatory drawings for The Amazon allow one to see how Modigliani slowly encircled his subject, playing through various possibilities of expression before finally arriving at a subtle understanding of the portrayed person.” ---------- These preparatory drawings are such a revealer of the process of how the artist wanted to peel away layer after layer of superficiality and strike at the truth of the sitter’s humanness.




“Modigliani’s work as a sculptor was enormously beneficial to his painting. It was through sculpture that he formally arrived at reduction, linearity and abstraction, the components of his own personal, homogeneous pictorial language.” ---------- Similar to how a playwright can improve their writing having been an actor, so Modigliani is a prime example of how working within one art form can strengthen another.

“Modigliani’s approach to art appears removed from the sphere of aesthetic debate. His sculptures were not really responses to the challenges of the genre; rather, as their lyric description as “columns of tenderness” suggests, they arose out of a comprehensive, poetic understanding of art. It is well known that Modigliani was a great lover of poetry, that he could recite entire passages of Dante and Petrarch from memory and often did so, sometimes even while painting.” ---------- This really shows how being an artist is not a head trip, how painting and poetry are linked much more directly to the passions, feelings and the senses.




“The development of photography, as well as the desire for artistic autonomy, meant that by the beginning of the twentieth century the genre of portraiture had lost much of its original function of depicting the likeness of a person. Modigliani is the only artist of classical Modernism who still concentrated almost exclusively on the actual subject.” ---------- Modigliani’s prime chosen art form was the portrait and he wasn’t about to be dissuaded by any modern technology.


( )
  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
As figuras esguias, misteriosas, alienadas, deformadas do mestre italiano da boemia parisiense, que nunca se identificou com nenhum estilo ou movimento. ( )
  JuliaBoechat | Mar 30, 2013 |
34.99
  mbugler | Mar 6, 2011 |
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To contemporaries, Amedeo Modigliani was the very definition of Parisian Bohemia, the controversial darling and target of the popular press and the model on which many a novel, play and film was based. As an artist, the scandalous Modigliani made his name chiefly with his celebrated pictures of women, with almond eyes and long necks and bodies.… (more)

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