Tate Modern Modigliani

A visit to the Tate Modern Modigliani Exhibition

Tate Modern Modigliani
Amedeo Modigliani

The Eyes Have It: Tate Modern Modigliani.

(Watch the video)

Amedeo Modigliani was born in Livorno, Italy in 1884 and he moved to Montmartre and subsequently Montparnasse, Paris to pursue a life in art.

The Modigliani exhibition at London’s Tate Modern traces the artist’s work from his arrival in Paris in 1906, his influence from Cezanne and his friendship with influence from Picasso.

Details of his career in Belle-Époque & WW1 Paris, the centre of art avant-garde at the time, can be found elsewhere, as can his art – much of which is so familiar to us today.

The Tate Modern Modigliani Exhibition – Eyes

What I’d like to concentrate on here was what impressed me so much at the Tate Modern Modigliani Exhibition – his concentration on and unique style with – eyes.

Tate Modern Modigliani
The influence of Cezanne

At first, they appear to be simply black brush marks. Occasionally with a little reference to pupils. But look deeper and a whole world invites interpretation.

Eyes: the windows to the soul. Our character and psyche revealed through our eyes?

Modigliani’s genius is demonstrated through his distinctive depiction of his sitters’ eyes.

You can see how his style developed from Cezannesque, through Picasso’s approach, to his very own stamp on the Paris art world.

The Tate Modern Modigliani
Moving on from Picasso’s African mask and Cubism: his own style emerging

Concentrating on portraits and not landscapes, symbolism or the much-demanded Cubism, Modigliani’s pictures communicate directly with us in their immortalisation and personalisation of his subjects.

His anonymous nudes convey the message of male lust and lasciviousness. Perhaps revealing a weakness? Yet the way he depicts his females shows both sexual exploitation diametrically opposed to men helplessly succumbing to their primitive instincts.

Modigliani at the The Tate Modern – some final thoughts

A debate here – neither actually in control one way or another.

Tragic that he should die so young. Great pity for those that he left behind – what happened to them?

A complex story with complicated issues set in an era of conflicting values. Modigliani opens a great discussion on a number of topics: illustrated by his ‘eyes’.