CURRENT SHOW 22 July - 5 November 2023
MODIGLIANI & THE MODERN PORTRAIT
The show combines the brilliant colors and powerful linear style of Modigliani with works by contemporaries from the School of Paris, including Picasso, Man Ray, Matisse, Klimt, Lachaise, Laurencin, Foujita, Kisling, van Dongen, Soutine to name a few, bringing to life the bohemian heyday of Montparnasse in Modigliani’s day. One of the fascinating insights offered by the exhibition is a new perspective on Modigliani’s Jewish identity and his connections to such artists as Kisling, Soutine, Pascin, Lipchitz and Chagall. Another significant aspect of the exhibition, an original interpretation of Modigliani’s place in history, is the way that it extends the idea of portraiture as Modigliani changed it to include Contemporary artists such as David Hockney, Eric Fischl, John Currin, Chuck Close, Amy Tiffany Hemingway, Marybeth Rothman and others. The legacy of Modigliani’s psychological depth resonates in the studios of our own time.
Wherever and whenever Amedeo Modigliani’s paintings go on view, crowds gather, experts turn out to debate, social media lights up and auction records fall. This Modern master personally changed the history of the portrait, adding the emotional and painterly power that has inspired generations since his untimely demise, the archetypal story of the doomed Bohemian genius. Curated by Dr. Kenneth Wayne, the world’s leading Modigliani scholar (founder of The Modigliani Project that researches the authenticity of works), this show will feature several spectacular paintings by the master, including the world premiere of two newly confirmed Modigliani paintings unveiled on this occasion.
Because these are some of the most renowned and treasured works of the twentieth century, the excitement surrounding this show also involves some of extremely distinguished lenders and provenances, including the family of Greta Garbo who was an early champion of Modigliani. A select group of world-renowned collectors have generously loaned their works to the most important exhibition mounted by this museum in recent years, building on the tradition of its record-shattering Chagall retrospective a decade ago as well as important surveys of Picasso and the School of Paris.
Some of the lenders to the exhibition, including museum trustees Arthur S. Levine and Carol Wolowitz, have been longtime supporters of these historical and scholarly exhibitions. This exhibition will be accompanied by a comprehensive, full-color catalogue with essays by the curator and museum director Charles A. Riley, PhD as well as a fascinating appendix on the scientific methods that are applied to authenticating works of art of this value. Among the many programs scheduled are lectures by the curator and by the scientific team that uses imaging and chemical testing to prove that the works are genuine.
One of the most dramatic and passionate figures in the history of art, Amadeo Modigliani was born into genteel poverty (his family in Livorno, Italy had been wealthy landowners who lost their fortune) and moved to Paris at the very peak of the city’s excitement as an avant-garde capital, when Picasso and Matisse, whose work is also in the show, were among the stars on the scene. Recognized immediately by his rivals (notably Picasso) and by major collectors such as Dr. Albert Barnes as a singular figure with a style all his own—the elegant, serpentine posture of his portraits is unsurpassed in Modern art—Modigliani became all the more important after his early death from tuberculosis and the suicide of his young wife the day after. Few biographies can rival the romantic allure of his story, just as few artists can command the admiration of critics and historians that he does. Ken Wayne, the curator of the show, has written some of the most important books and curated many of the most important exhibitions devoted to this figure, the epitome of the avant-garde genius.