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Indepth Arts News:

"Modigliani and the Artists of Montparnasse"
2002-10-22 until 2003-01-12
Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Buffalo, NY, USA

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery will present a major international exhibition of works by Italian master Amedeo Modigliani, who helped spawn the modern art movement in early 20th century Paris. Modigliani and the Artists of Montparnasse - the first major Modigliani exhibition in the United States in 40 years - will feature approximately 60 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by Modigliani, as well as 22 works by his contemporaries from the Montparnasse section of Paris, artists such as Matisse, Picasso, Brancusi, and Soutine.

Organized by the Albright-Knox, a leading international center of modern and contemporary art, the exhibition will include masterpieces from renowned museums and private collections in America, Europe, and Japan. Many of the works have never been seen in the United States.

In addition to the Albright-Knox, the lenders include Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Musée Picasso, Paris; and Tate Modern, London.

Modigliani (1884-1920) was born into a Jewish family in the cosmopolitan port town of Livorno, Italy, near Pisa. He moved to Paris in 1906 and became a central figure of the Parisian avant-garde. Modigliani was part of the first real international group of artists, a group that forever changed the art world by using non-Western influences such as African art in modernizing traditional subjects. Their works paved the way for the next generation of modern artists. The exhibition will show how Modigliani's art and life epitomize the diverse, multi-cultural artistic approach that developed in Montparnasse, a bohemian Paris neighborhood at the beginning of the twentieth century.

A master portraitist and sculptor, Modigliani is widely considered one of the great modern European artists. He is known for his elongated and sensuous portraits of women, including many exquisite female nudes. He exhibited with Picasso at least eight times and was often the "headliner" of their exhibitions. Modigliani accomplished much despite personal struggles and a tragically short life, dying of tuberculosis at age 35.

Modigliani's inspiration came from a variety of western and nonwestern sources, including African and Oceanic art, symbolism, fauvism, and cubism, among many others. He also made a major contribution to modern sculpture, producing carved stone heads that were influenced by African masks, Egyptian art, medieval sculpture, and Michelangelo. Several of these sculptures are included in the exhibition.

The exhibition will allow the Albright-Knox to feature several works from its distinguished collection of modern art, including Modigliani's Servant Girl, 1918; Marc Chagall's dream-like Peasant Life, 1925; Robert Delaunay's dynamic Sun, Tower, Airplane from 1913; and Woman's Head, 1909, a boldly-modeled sculpture by Pablo Picasso.

Following the premiere in Buffalo, Modigliani and the Artists of Montparnasse will be presented at two prestigious museums: the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, February 9 to May 25, 2003; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, June 29 to September 28, 2003.

He took traditional subjects in art history and modernized them, thereby underscoring their enduring appeal," said exhibition curator Dr. Kenneth Wayne. "Like other avant-garde artists, Modigliani avoided naturalistic depictions in favor of making something more imaginative and creative."

Albright-Knox Art Gallery Curator Dr. Kenneth Wayne organized the exhibition and wrote the accompanying catalogue published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. /Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The 224-page volume includes approximately 200 color and black-and-white illustrations and three essays: Modigliani and Montparnasse; Modigliani and the Avant-Garde; and Modigliani's Lifetime Exhibitions. The catalogue includes extensive new material drawn from Dr. Wayne's more-than 15 years of research. He was also very fortunate to interview one of Modigliani's last models, Paulette Jourdain and to gain new insight into the artist's life and work.

Amedeo Modigliani
The Boy, 1919
Collection Indianapolis Museum of Art

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