Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) was born in Leghorn, Italy on July 12, 1884 into a family of Jewish businessmen. He moved to Paris in 1906 at the age of 22.
He lived in Montmartre, but was part of the Montparnasse community of non-French artists that eventually came to be referred to as “Ecole de Paris” or “School of Paris”.
Primarily a portrait painter, Modigliani was a sculptor for 5 years from 1909-1914, influenced by his friendship with Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957), a Romanian who lived in Montmartre.
Modigliani’s subject matter was fairly consistently women; mostly portraits and, later, nudes. He did do many portraits of men too, mostly earlier in his career. Typical of his style, were elongated heads and arms, and simple features and subdued colours.
He was influenced primarily by Toulouse-Lautrec, Cezanne, Fauvism, Symbolism, and African masks. His art was very individual and unique, especially later in his career. The stylistically oval shapes of his faces and stylistic oval geometry in the bodies he painted make his artwork quite unique and therefore easy to identify. The uniqueness of Modigliani’s art makes him a great example of what Paris artists were trying to do in the early 1900’s .... to eke out a niche and a style all their own. Of this, he was definitely successful.
His first solo exhibition in Paris opened and closed on December 3, 1917 at the Berthe Weill Gallery. The police came, hearing there were paintings portraying nude women with pubic hair, and they shut the show down.
Modigliani had contracted tuberculosis as a child and therefore had it all his life. Exacerbated by his debaucherous lifestyle with alcohol and drugs, his tuberculosis worsened and he died of tuberculous meningitis in Paris on January 24th, 1920, at the age of 35.