Modigliani, Amedeo Clemente (1884–1920) By Protz, Uta
Defying categorization, the Italian draughtsman, painter, and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani is a key representative of the School of Paris. Active in France from 1906 until his premature death in 1920, he placed the human body at the center of his work. With few exceptions his approximately 30 sculptures comprise of crouching figures and elongated heads and his approximately 420 paintings are portraits and female nudes. Less experimental and radical than some of his contemporaries, Modigliani never questioned the human form. Rather, drawing on his early training in Italy, he continued the great tradition of the female nude in modern, provocative reinterpretation. His only solo exhibition during his lifetime, shown at Galerie Berthe Weill in Paris in 1917, caused a scandal: featuring his great series of reclining female nudes, the exhibition was closed by the police on the grounds of obscenity, but subsequently reopened. Modigliani’s private life was no less dramatic; despite or because of his poor health, he indulged in alcohol, drugs, and women. His last love was the art student Jeanne Hébuterne, 14 years his junior. She was nearly nine months pregnant with their second child when Modigliani died age 35 of tubercular meningitis in 1920. Desperate and inconsolable, Hébuterne committed suicide the day after, killing herself and the unborn child.