I went to see the Modigliani at the Tate Modern this month. After going to see the Soutine exhibition at The Courtauld (see earlier post). I was prepared not to like it – Soutine was a good friend with Modigliani but is much more human and expressive in his portraits – however I was pleasantly surprised.
Modigliani is known for his female figures with long gaunt faces and blank eyes – which I personally find quite unsettling. His troubled life ending in his early death may explain this.
His nudes, which at the time were shocking and drew much public attention are more defiant – they are a symbol of sexuality and confidence. Their direct cold stares and poses convey women who have confidence in their bodies and their livelihoods – many models (professional and prostitutes) earned relatively good money.
There was a room dedicated to stone sculptures of his faces. He only made a few as it was costly to make for a young poor artist (he may have stolen some of these stones), but they were highly aesthetic. His later ones almost felt Egyptian with ever more gaunt and long portraits.
Like many artists of that time, he achieved little success when he was alive but popularity grew after his early death aged 35.
Modigliani is at Tate Modern until 2 April 2018