Born: 12 July 1884; Livorno, Italy
Died: 24 January 1920; Paris, France
Active Years: 1898 - 1920
Field: painting, sculpture
Art Movement: Expressionism
School or Group: École de Paris
Genre: nude painting (nu)
Amedeo Modigliani was the epitome of a tragic artist. Born to a bourgeois family in Italy, he later shunned his academic upbringing and willingly devolved into a poverty stricken vagabond. He was formally educated as a life painter in his teens, quickly developing a life-long infatuation with nudes. In 1902 he moved to Florence to study at the Academia di Belle Arti, at the “Free School of Nude Studies,” and a year later he moved to Venice as a fledgling artist, where he smoked hashish for the first time. It was only after he discovered narcotics that he developed the philosophical belief that the only path to creativity was through defiance of social norms and disorder in life. Thus began a life long affliction with corrupted beauty, which would ultimately end with his untimely death and the suicide of his grief-stricken wife and their unborn child.
Modigliani contracted tuberculosis at an early age, and was constantly stricken by his deteriorated health, which may be one reason why he so willingly engaged in self-destructive behavior. Living in Paris, he had affairs with women, drank heavily, smoked hashish, and drank absinthe. In a drunken stupor, he would often strip naked at social gatherings. He was against all of the excesses of a Bourgeois lifestyle, and thus stripped them from his life, even destroying paintings that he had made in his earlier years.
Portrait of Paul Alexandre , 1909