Contribute by: dr. Sarah Palermo, Art Historian
So far many have thought Amedeo Modigliani was a “Livornese by mistake” who became a genius thanks to Paris. Just as there has always been little thought about the fact that he was Jewish. In truth Modigliani was a Livornese and a “quintessential” Jew from Livornese. He became what he has become also thanks to his education as a Jew in the Jewish community of Livorno and more generally in the community of Livorno, which has a unique and particular history, a past as a modern, cosmopolitan city, a crossroads of different peoples and cultures.
Who was Amedeo Modigliani? A Jew from Livorno (born in 1884) son of a French Sephardic mother, he lived only 35 years (de died in Paris in 1920), but he went down in history for his incredible portraiture skills and his feminine, mischievous and refined canvases with an absent and sometimes melancholy expression. Together with Chagall, Soutine, Pisarro or Lichtenstein, Modigliani was among the most influential Jewish painters in terms of fascination and artistic legacy.
The Infinity of Wuji: Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Modern Art
The Infinity of Wuji: Masterpieces from the National Gallery exhibition of Modern and Contemporary Art is an exhibition project that focuses on 62 masterpieces in China for the first time, from the collection of the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rome created by 46 prominent artists who influenced the development of Modern and Contemporary Art in Europe. Among the exhibited works, the masterpiece of “The Gardener” by Van Gogh, the “Portrait of Hanka Zborowska” by Amedeo Modigliani, “The disturbing muses” by Giorgio De Chirico, other Italian masters such as Balla, Fontana, Burri, and European artists such as Kandinsky, Picasso and Degas.
The exhibition, curated by the Director of the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art of Rome Cristiana Collu, produced and organized by China museum International, enhances one of the largest and most important collections of modern and contemporary art in Italy. The great event is supported by the Italian Ministry of Culture and hosted by Art Exhibitions China. The expression Wu Ji, literally “time without borders”, is a tribute to the Orient of the project “Time is out of joint”, which, starting from 2016, has transformed the National Gallery of Modern Art and its exhibition spaces in the name of a concept of time and space far from the classic historical-artistic schemes. The ambitious project of “timeless” dialogue enclosed in this exhibition aims to help strengthen the synergies between Italian and Chinese museum institutions, and to lead towards a collaboration increasingly close and frequent on large-scale projects that further highlight the relations between Italy and China. Among the authors who mainly represent this strong feeling of passing time is Amedeo Modigliani who, together with Boldini, made Paris their destination.
Modigliani, “the last pure bohemian” of Paris, spent most of his short career in France and produced many recognizable works of the female figure, including the masterpiece “Portrait of Hanka Zborowska”, one of the most important works of Modigliani’s life which is present at the exhibition. The portrait represents the wife of the poet Leopold Zobrowski, patron of Modigliani since 1916. The painting is considered a masterpiece of the last years of the artist. The rendering of space is affected by a reflection on cubism. A key element is her Hanka’s collar, as it frames her elongated neck – signature of the style of Modigliani’s portraits – a note of light in the composition of the whole canvas.