Distinctions.

Source: Wikipedia

A hundred years ago Amedeo Modigliani died at the age of thirty-five. One of his paintings, Seated Man With A Cane, is currently the subject of a complex legal dispute because it was stolen from a Jewish family by the Nazis, and recently new evidence has come to light that helps the original family’s claim. When I heard about this on the radio I didn’t need to see the picture itself to have an idea what it looked like. Modigliani wasn’t a member of any movement even though he spent most of his art career in Paris at a time when it seemed like every artist was either joining or founding a movement. He was an outsider whose painting style is so distinctive you only need to see one or two of his paintings to recognize his other works. He took up sculpture late in his life and even those works are, well, let’s just say you can tell they’re Modigliani’s. And yet his works aren’t repetitive. He created a distinctive style but he also kept pushing it, finding new and creative ways to apply his style to a variety of paintings–including nudes, but also portraits. Even though he wasn’t part of any specific movement he was such a good artist he always gets a mention in textbooks and other surveys of art history, even if they skip over other artists who were part of or significantly influenced major art movements. It’s unfortunate that he died so young, from tuberculosis, which was exacerbated by the fact that he was pretty much broke. He’s like Van Gogh, but sexier and less self-mutilating.
What I’m getting at is that it’s interesting how an artist can have a style so distinctive they create similar works and yet still manage to make each work good on its own.

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4 Comments

  1. Ann Koplow

    Thank you, Chris, for all of your distinctive posts.
    Ann Koplow recently posted…Day 2624: NeedsMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Thank you, Ann, for continuing to share your distinctive comments.

      Reply
  2. Kristine Laco

    I really do hope that family is able to recover their art or the $30M! It is a beautiful painting and I want it to have a beautiful story with a happy ending.
    Kristine Laco recently posted…My Mocha Whip Introduction to Writing HumourMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      So much art that was stolen by the Nazis hasn’t had a happy ending so I also hope the family either recovers it or gets the money. At least in this case it’s happy that the painting wasn’t destroyed. Too many of them were.

      Reply

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