Modernism – Amedeo Modigliani

Amedeo Modigliani (1884 -1920) was born in Italy but worked mainly in Paris. By 1902/1903 he was enrolled in the Academies of Fine Art in Florence and Venice. His style was influenced by studying Renaissance Masters of the Venetian, Florentine and Sienese schools of painting. Little of his painting survives from this time and he may have been concentrating on sculpture. However, the influence of those earlier masters carried through to his later work.

In France, he was influenced by Constantin Brâncusi (1876-1957) and between 1909 and 1914 seems to have been working on sculpture. As a sculptor, his work shows the influence of medieval art as well as that of classical and Renaissance sculpture. In Paris, he was also influenced by the interest in Primitive art from non-Western countries. Elements of African, Egyptian and Indian art can be seen in his work.

Rose Caryatid Audace, 1914 [External Link]

As both a sculptor and a painter he had a limited range of subject matter, tending to focus on heads for sculpture and portraits or female nudes for painting.

Rose Caryatid Audace is a gouache sketch which may have been for a project that Modigliani talked about, that of creating a temple supported by caryatids. Like his paintings this sketch has a confident use of line and colour.

In Paris, he became associated with ‘Les Peintres Maudits’, the accursed or doomed painters. The elements of the group were alienation, poverty, weakness and brilliance. Many of them were foreign. They included Chaim Soutine (1893-1943), Marc Chagall (1887-1985) and Maurice Utrillo (1883-1955). In many ways they could be seen as religious painters, not in a traditional sense, but with a focus on the needs of the human spirit in an increasingly technological age. Spirituality was in the everyday world.

In many ways the artists within this group were ahead of their time in terms of the taste of the art-buying public. This lead to the speculation of their work from dealers looking ahead but that did not necessarily work to the advantage of the artist as speculation could lead to exploitation.

Marcelle, 1917 [External Link]

This image shows many of the elements which have come to be associated with Modigliani. The figure has an elongated face and neck and stylised features. The arched brows, long nose and small mouth are reminiscent of the standardised faces of icons from the Medieval Period, especially those of Byzantine Art. As well as Primitive art, he may have been influenced by artists of the Sienese School of the 13th – 15th century. One of the most influential artists of the group was Duccio di Buoninsegna who was influenced by Byzantine Art. Like the artists then Modigliani is capable of conveying a variety of emotions despite the pared-down elements of the face.


Modigliani, A. (1914) Rose Caryatid Audace [Painting] (Accessed on 19.06.17)

Modigliani, A. (1917) Marcelle [Painting] At: (Accessed on 19.0617)


Chilvers, I. (2009) ‘Modigliani, Amedeo’ definition. In: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists. 4th edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hall, D. (1984) Modigliani. London: Phaidon Press Ltd.

Kuspit, D. (2006) ‘A Critical History of 20th-Century Art’ In: 05.05.06 [online] At: (Accessed 19.06.17)