Colorful biography of the painter Amedeo Modigliani (1884- 1920), set against the art world of Paris during the first two decades of the century. Modigliani, explains British biographer Rose (Elizabeth Fry, 1981--not reviewed), was the product of an upper-class Jewish- Italian family. After art studies in Livorno, Florence, and Venice, where he spent more time in cafes and brothels than in class, he arrived in Paris in 1906, seeking fame and fortune. Within weeks, the somber reality of poverty set in--moving from seedy hotel to seedy hotel, he wound up living in a wooden shack in Montmartre. There, and later in Montparnasse, he met many of the foremost artists, writers, and ``characters'' of the day, including Picasso, Soutine, Utrillo, Cocteau, Hans Arp, and Fernand L‚ger. Because of his success with women, Modigliani had easy access to free models (``Women of a beauty worth painting or sculpting often seem encumbered by their clothes,'' he said). Rose seems torn between downplaying what she refers to as the ``Modigliani myth'' and relating dozens of stories that have served to create that myth. Included are accounts of how Modigliani danced wildly in the moonlight with a famous courtesan; of how one of his first collectors was a senior police official who first met the painter when he was jailed for drunkenness; and of how the artist's only one-man gallery show was closed ``for indecency'' the day it opened. Rose does attempt to disentangle fact from fiction as she meticulously cites her sources for each anecdote, and she points out that it is the work that distinguishes the artist, not the antics. The day after Modigliani died from tubercular meningitis at age 35, his young wife killed herself. Prices for his paintings have skyrocketed ever since. Despite the somewhat misleading subtitle, this is not a paean to la vie de la bohŠme, but a tragic story of art transcending life. (Eight color, 64 b&w illustrations.) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Library Journal:
Rose's "romantic" biography of Italian modernist Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) avoids detailed art criticism while engaging the reader in a fully lucid and documented account of his life from a bourgeois childhood in Livorno, Italy to his early death in poverty and despair. In between was a Montparnasse bohemian existence with such contemporaries as Brancusi, Picasso, and Matisse. Similar treatments of the artist's life include his daughter Jenne's Modigliani: Man and Myth (1959), William Fifield's Modigliani (Morrow, 1976), and Carol Mann's Modigliani (Oxford Univ. Pr., 1980). Furthermore, a novel by Anthony Wilmot, The Last Bohemian: A Novel About Modigliani (McDonald & Janes, 1975) puts the facts to fiction. Indeed, Modigliani's lifestyle has seduced the imagination of succeeding generations in a pursuit ever after of the Parisian myths of that period. This is a personal testament to those enduring myths. Illustrations, mostly black and white, are chosen for their historical significance. Buy only if you don't have a biography of the artist.
- Ellen Bates, New York
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Constable, 1992. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110094714703