a life
by Meryle Secrest
rrp $45.00

Publisher: Scribe Publications Pty Ltd

Publication Date: January 12, 2016

ISBN: 9781921942327

Binding: Kobo eBook

Availability: eBook

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’People like us ... have different rights, different values than do ordinary people because we have different needs which put us ... above their moral standards.’ — Modigliani

Amedeo (‘Beloved of God’) Modigliani was considered to be the quintessential bohemian artist, his legend almost as infamous as van Gogh’s. In Modigliani’s time, his work was seen as an oddity: contemporary with the Cubists but not part of their movement. His work was a link between such portraitists as Whistler, Sargent, and Toulouse-Lautrec and that of the Art Deco painters of the 1920s, as well as the new approaches of Gauguin, Cézanne, and Picasso.

Jean Cocteau called Modigliani ‘our aristocrat’ and said, ‘There was something like a curse on this very noble boy. He was beautiful. Alcohol and misfortune took their toll on him.’

In this major new biography, Meryle Secrest, one of our most admired biographers — whose work has been called ‘enthralling’ (The Wall Street Journal); ‘rich in detail, scrupulously researched, and sympathetically written’ (The New York Review of Books) — now gives us a fully realised portrait of one of the twentieth century’s master painters and sculptors: his upbringing, a Sephardic Jew from an impoverished but genteel Italian family; his going to Paris to make his fortune; his striking good looks (‘How beautiful he was, my god how beautiful,’ said one of his models) ... his training as an artist ... and his influences, including the Italian Renaissance, particularly the art of Botticelli; Nietzsche’s theories of the artist as Übermensch, divinely endowed, divinely inspired; the monochromatic backgrounds of van Gogh and Cézanne; the work of the Romanian sculptor Brancusi; and the sculptures of Africa and Oceania with their simplified, masklike triangular faces, elongated silhouettes, puckered lips, low foreheads, and heads on exaggeratedly long necks.

We see the ways in which Modigliani’s ...