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Modigliani at Tate Modern

December 29, 2017

ArtsPainting | by Candid Magazine

The artist Amedeo Modigliani was born in 1884 in Tuscany, Italy, but spent most of his working life living in France. There he painted and sculpted an almost entire repertoire of nude females, in a signature style that fused the colours of Fauvism with the angles of cubism.

Unlike many other artists of his day such as Constantin Brâncusi and Pablo Picasso (whom he was both acquainted with), Modigliani didn’t really change or evolve his style. He found a look and feel that worked, and found him success, and stuck to the recipe.

Modigliani’s Reclining Nude, Head Resting on Right Arm (1919). Photograph: Tate

A new show at the Tate Modern in London contains over 100 of the artists works, which are stuffed with thick, dark eyes, wide hip curves, rounded breasts – all treated with a sense of modernism. The exhibition portrays Modigliani as a champion of female power – despite the subject of the female nude being one of the most contentious subjects in art history (is it empowering or derogatory?)/

Modiglian’s partner Jeanne Hebuterne, 1919. Photograph: www.scalarchives.com

The show is full of sex and power – albeit often borrowed from artists such as Cézanne and Ingres in terms of poses and palettes. In the same way that Picasso adopted the rawness of tribal art, Modigliani borrowed from the contemporaries with which he found himself encircled in Paris. He then took these methods and applied his own sheen of romantic classicism to find his ‘look’. The show offers a tight and well lit snapshot in to the artistic career of a key player in Paris during the first half of the 20th century – as well as the surrounding social circles which gave way for lots of sex and drugs.

Modigliani in his studio, photographed by Paul Guillaume, c1915. Photograph: © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée de l’Orangerie)

To alleviate from the show’s slight sense of repetitiveness due to the artist’s oeuvre, a canny solution has been found. At the end of the exhibition, visitors can slip on a pair of virtual reality goggles and step inside Modigliani’s studio. Glancing around his Parisian apartment, drab in appearance, cigarette smoke filled, the visitor is instantly transported to the artist’s headspace. Despite being obviously devoid of nude sitter’s, the utilisation of the technology highlights a new direction in which art curation is heading. Always keen to create the latest blockbuster show, the big institutions are currently racing towards to VR. We suspect it is only a small number of years until the idea of a fully immersive exhibition can be realised – perhaps watching Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling could happen.

Modigliani at Tate Modern, until 2 April 2018