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Amedeo Modigliani

(1884—1920) Italian painter and sculptor

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Italian painter, sculptor, and draughtsman known for his melancholy elongated portraits.

The fourth son of a wealthy Italian Jewish banker who lost his money, Modigliani suffered during his short life from both poverty and chronic illness. Pleurisy at the age of eleven was followed by tuberculosis at fourteen, after which he left school. He studied painting in his home town of Livorno and later in Florence and Venice before moving to Paris in 1906. Here, although he immersed himself in the life of the highly stimulating artists' quarter of Paris, his style remained uniquely his own. Despite the simplifications of form and the traces of cubism and expressionism, his paintings were influenced as much by fourteenth-century Italian artists, such as Botticelli, as by his contemporaries. The subjects of his portraits, with their elongated forms, frequently appear tired, sad, and vulnerable and they display the artist's sensitivity to character. The nudes, painted in the same linear style, are enlivened by an element of eroticism. He exhibited infrequently during his lifetime but was supported by two patrons who bought most of his work. Although there is little certain knowledge of the details of Modigliani's life in Paris, he has traditionally been regarded as the typical romantic genius: handsome, starving, obsessively painting and carving while destroying himself with drink and drugs and finally dying young from tuberculosis.

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