Modì, false "maudit" out of the crowd.
In French the pun comes easy: Modì-Maudit that is Modigliani-cursed. And from his very unfortunate life, they drew heavily to build the stereotype of the crazy artist without rules: in three words: genius and recklessness.
Is this really the case?
Amedeo Modigliani was born in Livorno on July 12, 1884. At 14 he was struck by a fever typhoid and two years later from tuberculosis. Diseases will never leave him. Forced at home, he filled out sheets and sheets of drawings demonstrating a marked artistic talent, but the family's economy did not allow enrollment in an art school.
During a violent attack pneumonia snatched from his mother the promise of being able to go to work at the studio of Guglielmo Micheli, a pupil of Giovanni Fattori.
After studying in Florence and Venice, Amedeo moved to Paris with little money, because that's where "things happen".
Modì is kind, elegant, shy. He knows how to recite the “Divine Comedy” by heart like almost all the poems of his contemporaries. Charming and cultured, he is popular with everyone. Surrounded by the great masters of the time, he becomes friends with Picasso, Derain, Apollinaire, Jacob, Diego Rivera and above all with Brancusi, because his dream is to become a sculptor.
But sculpture requires money for the material and space to work, which Modigliani does not have; moreover, to carve the stone you need physical strength and certainly not to be as sick as he is.
His friendship with Brancusi, however, forms him with elongated lines, with very different geometries from the pictorial ones used in the other ateliers. The slightly distorted proportions are consolidated with his discovery of fetishes and stylized figurines from Cameroon, Congo and the Ivory Coast. This is how his unmistakable style was born.
Lung pains and illness make him suffer and for this he indulges in alcohol, hashish and absinthe. For him, drinking, which in any case will destroy him as much as tuberculosis, is not an end, it is a means.
Drunkenness pulls him out of indecision, from the excessive fear of being what he is. Certainly Modigliani did not go unnoticed like many of his colleagues who drank as much as he did. Picasso said well: "It seems that Modigliani cannot get a hangover except at the Montparnasse crossroads".
In a period of "movements" of "artistic styles" of "labels" that critics glued in profusion (Cubists, Impressionists, Expressionists, etc.) Modigliani is a distinct personality, apart. When Gino Severini asked him to join the Italian movement of the "Futurists", Amedeo laughed and said no.
In his strings there was an intuition and an introspection out of the ordinary, a kind of "mentalist", able to read and restore the characters of the people on canvas, who invariably found themselves in his portraits.
Modigliani paints quickly, he makes a portrait in one or two sessions at the most. His painting is full of personal feelings.
He died one morning in January 1920 clinging to his wife Jeanne (who will take her own life two days later) in the throes of turberculous meningitis.
There was a large funeral which was attended by a crowd along with the artist communities of Montparnasse and Montmartre. Even the police officers, who did not really like him, stood to attention and paid him the military salute.
And as expected, he had posthumous luck. Today one of his paintings is worth 170 million euros. For us, the feelings that he has been able to transmit through his colors and shapes are worth more.