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The exhibition ‘Modigliani: Imagens de uma Vida’ (‘Modigliani: Images of a Life’) brings together the paintings and sculptures of one of the most important, but often unsung members of the Modernist movement.
The Italian Amadeo Modigliani (1884-1920) is perhaps not as well known as some of his friends and contemporaries, and his work was only displayed in a single exhibition during his lifetime. And like all too many great artists, he ended his life in great difficulties – in Modigliani’s case, he was destitute, a drug addict and an alcoholic when he died.
But today, he is considered one of the greats – in New York in 2007, a Modigliani portrait went for US$30.84 million on the same night that a Matisse portrait set the world record for a painting sold at auction – but fetching only slightly more.
As well as a series of works that have never been seen in Brazil before, this MASP exhibition includes letters from Modigliani to his friend Picasso, his mother’s diary, a photo essay of his workshops and some of the places he lived, and a set of the artist’s own sketches. It charts Modigliani’s progression from what he would later describe as ‘a dirty bourgeois’ to bona fide Modernist genius, focusing on his studies of the human form and in particular on the many portraits of women – their elongated forms influenced by his interest in primitive African sculpture – for which he is now renowned.