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« Artchat Survival Guide -- Aesthetics | Main | Free Reads -- Dennis Lim and Todd Haynes »

November 01, 2002

Free Reads -- Perl on Modigliani

Friedrich --

Le Grand Nu, 1919

The Modigliani exhibition that's up in Buffalo right now is apparently the first such major retrospective of his work in this country in 40 years. The New Republic publishes a beautiful Jed Perl review of it, here.

Sample passage:

Everything in Modigliani's work is short cuts and telegraphed messages. When he paints people he gives us summaries. He is a mythologizer for a hurry-up generation, the perfect court painter for the fast-moving bohemia of Montparnasse ...

To operate so much by instinct is to be a sort of gambler, and Modigliani's virtuosity sometimes suggests a wise guy's manipulative personality. His swelling, swerving contours are authoritative, singular, and also frequently superficial. And yet even when his work, in many of the portraits of blank-eyed beautiful women, is half-baked, it is not necessarily slapdash. He brings his own quickening authority to the gathering excitement of the modern movement.

I'm very fond of Modigliani myself, even if vaguely aware how uncool that is. The iconic quality of his nudes and portraits seems gimmicky and too easily arrived at, yet I can't help enjoying and admiring his sensuality, his Classicizing instincts, and his ease. And the dream of Bohemia that his paintings conjure up ... Well, shameful and hick though it is to admit, that image is part of what lured me into the media-and-arts field.

Would someone please tell me what became of that dream Bohemia? I'm here, but now it's gone.

Buffalo's Albright-Knox Gallery, here, has put together a Flash presentation on Modigliani. The Artchive (here) has a good page of text, with links to many images.



posted by Michael at November 1, 2002


(From first on list at top, to last listed)
The dream of Bohemia ...
Whatever happened to?
World War I.
Then Ezra Pound and Paris --
and the Spanish Civil War.
And then Hitler.
And then there was the new, atomic age,
and "God was Dead".
But punk rock lives.

Posted by: Tom on November 11, 2002 6:12 AM

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