June 17, 2011

Amedeo Modigliani

Amedeo Modigliani was born in Italy but was an artist who worked mainly in France. He became known for paintings and sculptures in a modern style characterized by mask-like faces and an elongation of form. Modigliani was often penniless and homeless. He frequently slept and worked in the studios of artist friends who liked him and recognized his great talent as both a painter and a sculptor. He moved to Montparnasse in 1913 and kept afloat by selling drawings in cafes for small sums. In 1917, he married but it was too late for this more normal life to conquer the ravages of consumption. Modigliani’s earliest paintings were slightly influenced by Toulouse-Lautrec, but the bulk of his surviving works dating from 1915 to 1920 indicate his interest in African sculpture, in Cezanne, and the Cubist works of Braque and Picasso. His easily recognizable portraits and nudes feature long slender oval heads, sloping shoulders, and extremely subtle coloration. He died in Paris in 1920 of tubercular meningitis, exacerbated by poverty, overwork and addiction to alcohol and narcotics. His despondent widow threw herself off the roof of her parents' apartment house on the day of his funeral. It was not until after his death, did he begin to receive recognition as a great artist.

Life is often very difficult. There are many obstacles to peace and harmony. We must be like the water in the river that flows around the obstacles, and is not blocked by them. Often the path is unclear, but our reliance on the wisdom of the ancients will see us through if we are patient.

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