“Every great work of art should be considered like any work of nature. First of all from the point of view of its aesthetic reality and then not just from its development and the mastery of its creation but from the standpoint of what has moved and agitated its creator.“ (Amedeo Modigliani)
|Amedeo Modigliani: Reclining Nude, 1917|
|Portrait of Amadeo Modigliani, possibly by Jeanne Hébuterne, 1919|
“Ne t'attardes pas avec l'avante garde” (“Don’t pay attention to the avant-garde”), Jean Cocteau once wrote and Modigliani took it to heart. While the –isms of Modernity exploded around his ears, Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism and what not, he developed a distinctive own style of painting decoratively elegant human still lifes, long-necked, almond-eyed, gazeless, inaudible and undynamic, turning their faces to the spectator to be admired, reduced to themselves as they are. Ecce homo and ecce Modigliani, it was an image of humanity that belonged to the Renaissance by right while the -isms dashed the traditional concept of man and individuality as centre of the universe to pieces in their own conception of art. None the less, Modigliani learned from Cézanne, rehearsed Vuillard’s sketchy “non finito”, the Cubists showed him to order a canvas and stylise bodies and faces to structures and masks but Modigliani holds the line and, above all, is his 19th century self-image of the artist as superuomo, Übermensch and chosen and outcast one of society. He never became avante garde and did not prepare any future art trends but stood like some lone tower of former days remaining, albeit with a modernist finish.
And more about Modigliani on: